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Monday, April 23, 2018

We are Desis, and we fight like cats and dogs

In Greenwood, Indiana, a fight broke out in the Gurdwara; it reminds me of the battle a few years ago where the Sikhs were chasing each other with swords in a London Gurdwara. Don’t laugh, we are Desis, and we always fight. 

Having visited many places of worship and connected with most ethnic communities, I have witnessed fights like this in Temples, Mosques and Churches and Gurdwaras of Desi Americans. We act in an identical fashion no matter what state we are from, or what country we are from in South Asia.  They have all fought from within and have split into two or three groups.   

In Dallas, that is my hometown, the Bengali Association, Kerala Association, Pakistani Association, Bangladeshi Association and the Hindu Temple have all gone to the courts, as they could not sit down and talk with each other.  Hey, we are Desis,’ and we love to fight for no reason, we have to show the other to be an inferior being.  Let me make it clear; it is a just a handful of us in each group, not all of them.

As long as we are a small group, we work together cohesively. But once we grow in size, we fight for control, even in America! I was in India in August 2017, and I could hear the same fights in the Mosque and the Temple several blocks away. I was tempted to go to calm them down, it has worked every time. I don't know what it is, people will listen to me.

In a Mushaera program, I was able to pull the big guy out of the hall before he could start the fight, and the same thing happened at the Hindu Temple - two guys got into hand and fist fight and others were joining them.  My printer and his wife were at each other's throats I pulled them apart and worried about him beating me up. Later on, while driving home, I was thinking - those guys could have thrashed me but they didn't, why?  The only answer I could find was, I had nothing to gain from it and they recognized it and listened. I always wondered why the British were afraid to mess with Gandhi, or why were they afraid of MLK?   

Of course, there are many good organizations run very well by the Desi Americans, and that is the norm. What we usually talk is exceptions, as that is the only area that needs attention.

I must give credit to a few organizations, and one of them is India Association of North Texas. They are not free from conflicts and pettiness, but the majority of them are good people and follow the rules.  The elected officers respectfully step down and celebrate the past executives, unlike other organizations where they don’t.  Indeed, many of the organizations shamelessly disrespect the previous team, even in a sports association like Cricket.

IANT is an exemplary organization, and I am proud to be a life member of the organization. When I see the conflicts elsewhere, invariably, I talk about IANT in glowing terms.  When I retire, I will do my share of work in adding whatever I can to its inclusiveness. My late wife Najma admired each one of them for their volunteerism.  Dallas is my home and I will come home when I get the things done that I am set out to do; Establish and fund the Center for Pluralism.

If we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept each other's uniqueness, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
CBS reports this picture of Gurdwara, and the name on truck matches with the name of the town, down below in the Times of India, the Gurdwara is not the same, it does not have the Golden domes. 

One Jagbish Singh from Indiana said it right, “The brawl does not reflect their religious teachings, it’s “only a couple of people, two or three people, who are making the problem for everybody.”  Indeed, all the problems in the world we have are three are four people.

REENWOOD, Ind. -- Police say a brawl at a Sikh temple in suburban Indianapolis has left four people with minor injuries. Greenwood Assistant Police Chief Matthew Fillenwarth says police and medics responded Sunday to a verbal and physical fight involving about 150 people at the Gurdwara Sikh temple in the city just south of Indianapolis.
CBS affiliate WTTV-TV reports the altercation began as there was a change of leadership within the temple that he says happens every two years. Fillenwarth says it's believed that there was a worship service going on when the fight broke out.
WTTV reports the ceremony in question can include daggers. Police were still investigating whether pepper spray or any weapons were used during the incident. No weapons were recovered at the scene.
Fillenwarth says four people suffered minor injuries and were taken to a hospital, where they will be questioned by police.
Police are reviewing surveillance video from the temple and interviewing other participants in the fight.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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