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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A Canadian Sikh wedding as a cultural performance Gill, Kuldip


This thesis presents the first extended description of a Canadian Punjabi Sikh Wedding. The cultural events prior to, during and after a wedding, in one rural family in British Columbia, are presented as scenes in a cultural performance. In doing this, an attempt has been made to use ideas from the approaches of Clifford Geertz and Milton Singer. Geertz's notion of 'thick description1 has directed my ethnographic data collection. Singer's idea of cultural performance has given these data a textual form as well as shown me the importance of noting the sequential occurrence of events or concrete social units during the performance of a Sikh wedding. I have explored and commented on Barbara Ward's concept of 'conscious models' in relation to the study of the Sikhs as an immigrant group in Canada. The significance of this ethnography is its description of one avowedly traditional Sikh wedding which included many rites or event sequences. This attempt at 'thick description' may enable others studying other Sikh weddings to note comparatively the impact of events and processes external to this ethnic group on the institution of Sikh marriage. As well, the internal tensions and pressures for change may be revealed by the way marriages are performed in the future. This thesis, thus, provides a base-line for the comparative study of other Sikh weddings. While the primary contribution of this thesis is to the body of ethnographic literature, it should also be useful to people and institutions interested in Ethnicity, Social Change, Women's Studies and those interested in immigrant groups. As the study of one Canadian Sikh wedding in one family, this thesis does not present any general conclusions or generalizations applicable to the whole of Canadian Punjabi Sikh culture.

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