6 thoughts on “Jasvir Singh, Chair of the City Sikhs Network, Co-chair of Faiths Forum 4 London

  1. So, do you have a god-given name that matches your soul. Probably not.
    Having lived for a time in Zimbabwe I found this an interesting thought, apart form the god aspect of course. Many of the people I worked with had names taken from the bible as well as a traditional local name. My colleague Robert was known as Tapera which he told us meant ‘sweet as sugar’. He had made the choice to be known by that name in the office whereas many others used their biblical name (Peter, Thomas, Samuel) and some used their Shona name (Fani, Tendai). I was always struck how the imposition of the colonially imposed religion had changed the use of names in the country and how the very anti-colonial Robert Gabriel Mugabe didn’t seem to mind the imposition of the Catholic church on himself or his people.
    As an aside, another colleague told us a story of a mission school in Zambia in the 1950s where the only two books available were the bible (in English) and a manual for a tractor. The story was that the mission staff insisted on children being named using bible names but one or two people had called their children names such as Carburettor. I didn’t know whether this was true but when I went to work in Zambia later we had a driver who was called Fordson, which must have come from the brand of tractor. We also knew people called Christmas and Never, names that perhaps they too would want to change.


  2. Very interesting comment PeterT, and also Rev Peter’s response. It is an enduring mystery to me how formerly colonised or enslaved peoples still hold to the faith imposed on them by their oppressors.

    Singh began his three minutes with reference to two current news stories (tick); but then went off tangentially to talk about names. Personal names of course form an important part of who we are and how others encounter us; and I welcome the diversity of names from other cultures that now enrich life in this country. However, I’m not sure how long it takes a parent, as Singh suggested, to decide that their newborn is going to be a Colin, or a Daisy, but at least they get six weeks before committing to official registration. Strange, I thought, that despite names being so important in Sikhdom, the first letter of a child’s name should be determined by chance. Apparently no botanist, zoologist or other specialist has been responsible for carefully naming species in their various orders; these were all written by ‘the ever-flowing pen of the almighty.’ This ‘thought’ was a bit of a rag-bag of non sequiturs.

    My mother’s best friend had the surname House; her parents had seen fit to name her Wendy. I believe this coloured the way people reacted to her for a significant part of her life. I’ll finish with a quote from Stan Laurel (a scripted line, I should add): “Anyone with a name like Hitler can’t be all that bad.”


  3. Yes, as Liverpudlian says, this clanged with non sequiturs for much of it.

    I semi-seriously always wanted the middle name of my five-year-old daughter to be ‘Van Halen’ – in honour of course of the now sadly departed guitar deity – without ever expecting any agreement from her mother (or anyone else, for that matter). Spoiler: that’s just how it turned out, with no middle name given, mostly because her surname is double-barrelled, since her parents are – shock, horror! – not married.

    However, I made one last desperate effort on formally registering her name for my wish to be granted: when we were asked by the registrar what her middle name would be, I immediately said, completely po-faced, “Van Halen”.

    The registrar looked up from the certificate, firstly at my child’s mum, and then turned to me with a sympathetic smile and simply said, “No it isn’t”. 🙂


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