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Rome, Italy | 2013 - 2015

Sat Sri Akal

Sikh Community in Rome

A visual survey about daily life, identity and culture of the Sikh community of Rome and its integration into the urban context.

The Sikh diaspora originates from various social, economic and political changes that have characterized a long historical phase of India, in particular the state of Punjab, the Sikhism birthplace. Even if a little known ethnic-religious minority, the Sikhs in the world are about 25 million.

Since the ’70s, Italy has become a popular destination in the Sikh diaspora, both for the closure of borders by the English-speaking countries and the lack of adequate legislation on immigration issue.

According to unofficial estimates, both legal and illegal Sikhs residents in Lazio region are about 40.000, including 10.000 between Rome and neighboring towns.

Community’s social and spiritual life takes place mainly in the Gurdwara – the “Gateway to the Guru” – a place where the principles of equality and social sharing are practiced: the refectory is free and open to all, regardless of gender, age or social status. It’s supported by voluntary donations, as well as all the costs of temple maintenance.

The Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sabha association, which operates between Rome and province, manages money remittances, provides assistance to newcomers to facilitate family reunification and organizes cultural events. It also plays a mediating role in order to help migrants to move to the central and northern Italy, where there are more job opportunities and a better standard of living. In fact, in many cases, Rome is only a transit point where precarious living conditions still remain.

Sikh’s strong feeling of solidarity has facilitated the development of a dense network of transnational relations and the creation of associations related to the Sikhs identity affirmation.