Gurdwaras Join Efforts to Address Alcohol Abuse

GlassyJunction1.JPGA charity based in Southall, called the Drug and Alcohol Action Programme (DAAP) will be joining forces with local Gurdwaras to address high rates of alcohol abuse taking place at Asian, particularly Punjabi Sikh, weddings. Perminder Dhillon, CEO of the charity states that “it is no longer acceptable to ignore the dangerous levels of alcohol drinking at these events.”

There is a mistaken view in Asian communities that religious and cultural backgrounds act as a barrier to the kind of drunken scenes so often seen in so many town centres all over the country. She said: “Many parents feel pressurized to provide a huge quantity of alcohol at weddings even if they themselves are non-drinkers”. [link]

She goes onto say that there are huge expectations on families to provide alcohol at weddings – often demanded by the groom’s side. This problem has become so extensive now that it is likened to demanding dowry and by partaking, “we end up supporting users with alcohol-related health problems during the binge-drinking period”.

Research published in the British Medical Journal suggests that men of South Asian origin in Britain are four times more likely to die of alcohol-related liver problems than other ethnic groups. Eighty percent of those South Asians who are vulnerable to alcohol-related mortality are Sikhs.

The charity has stated that the strategy they will use to combat this issue is simple – they will “name and shame” those involved and publicly condemn individuals on their website.

I’m not sure if this strategy has been used before (I think not, since as a community we like to hide our problems rather than publicize them). However, disclosing this information is a way of holding one another accountable — something that has clearly been missing from our community. We tend to turn a blind eye to alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, fraud… the list can go on. While all these issues are serious, alcohol abuse is one issue that our community deals with on a regular issue. Whether in Punjab, the UK, Canada or the US – alcohol abuse is rampant and passes silently from one generation to the next.

“Ethnic minorities make up almost eight percent of the population in the United Kingdom, yet their contribution to the cost of alcohol related harm, estimated at $32bn a year, is not widely known. This has led to public health policies based on incorrect assumptions, the BMJ said.

According to an editorial published in the British Medical Journal in October, alcohol-use among South Asians in Britain is “under-recognised, and alcohol related harm is disproportionately high.”[link]

We have a lot of work to do to even acknowledge that this is a problem but without this acknowledgement it’s very difficult to raise awareness and impact change. When families choose not to serve alcohol at their wedding receptions, that is also a step in the right direction. Yet – how many weddings have you been to where that is occurring? Why has alcohol become synonymous with Punjabi weddings? And should the burden of addressing this issue fall on the Gurdwaras?


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7 Responses to “Gurdwaras Join Efforts to Address Alcohol Abuse”

  1. benassi says:

    publicly name and shame? sounds ideally effective, but you'll end up with slander/libel suits

  2. benassi says:

    publicly name and shame? sounds ideally effective, but you'll end up with slander/libel suits

  3. Billie says:

    Interestingly, as a community, we expect there to be alchohol freely available at wedding receptions, and if there is a lack of it the brides family is percieved as being 'tight' and not able or willing to provide it due to financial reasons. if we are to break the 'tradition' of serving unlimitted amounts of alchohol and the consequences of doing so, I believe that it would have to be the grooms family who initiate this change. We are no longer in the days where we are only percieved as being strong, proud, and worthy of respect by showing our financial strength, we have evolved. Surely we can maintain out identity as punjabi's, takng all the good traits from our culture, but recognse the bad and be effective at changing those as and when needed. Intelligent and independant thinking families need to step up here and take the lead. There has to be a compromise. Perhaps the first drink is offerred complimentary, and subsequent drinks paid for by the individual guests.. An announcement at the the start of the reception by the grooms side, that innaproriate behaviour caused by excessive drinking will not be tolerated may also be effective at making individuals think twice. A wedding is about the bride and groom, their special day. So often memories of that day are marred by the actions of people who drink excessive amounts of alchohol. Lets make weddings a time of celebrating the joining of two people and two families. If you want to get drunk, dont do it at weddings, do it on your time, and out of your pocket!

  4. Billie says:

    Interestingly, as a community, we expect there to be alchohol freely available at wedding receptions, and if there is a lack of it the brides family is percieved as being 'tight' and not able or willing to provide it due to financial reasons. if we are to break the 'tradition' of serving unlimitted amounts of alchohol and the consequences of doing so, I believe that it would have to be the grooms family who initiate this change. We are no longer in the days where we are only percieved as being strong, proud, and worthy of respect by showing our financial strength, we have evolved. Surely we can maintain out identity as punjabi's, takng all the good traits from our culture, but recognse the bad and be effective at changing those as and when needed. Intelligent and independant thinking families need to step up here and take the lead. There has to be a compromise. Perhaps the first drink is offerred complimentary, and subsequent drinks paid for by the individual guests.. An announcement at the the start of the reception by the grooms side, that innaproriate behaviour caused by excessive drinking will not be tolerated may also be effective at making individuals think twice. A wedding is about the bride and groom, their special day. So often memories of that day are marred by the actions of people who drink excessive amounts of alchohol. Lets make weddings a time of celebrating the joining of two people and two families. If you want to get drunk, dont do it at weddings, do it on your time, and out of your pocket!

  5. Dosanjh says:

    "Perhaps the first drink is offerred complimentary, and subsequent drinks paid for by the individual guests……………."
    ———————–
    How dare you sir. How very dare you. We are Englishmen. Not backwater Canadians. Do you really want everyone else to laugh at us for being tight the way we laugh at the Canadians ? We will tolerate any insult good sir. But we draw the line at doing anything canadian.
    I take it you are a gentleman and shall withdraw your call for a bar with limits at wedding receptions. If not, I challenge you to a duel. It took centuries of historical development for both our English and Punjabi cultures include a tradition of the open bar policy. Or 'ye openne barr policee' as the tudors called it. I will not have their traditions tarnished by a man influenced by happenings in the new world and it's colonies. I demand you withdraw your suggestion with a promise never to repeat such filth again.

  6. Dosanjh says:

    "Perhaps the first drink is offerred complimentary, and subsequent drinks paid for by the individual guests……………."
    ———————–
    How dare you sir. How very dare you. We are Englishmen. Not backwater Canadians. Do you really want everyone else to laugh at us for being tight the way we laugh at the Canadians ? We will tolerate any insult good sir. But we draw the line at doing anything canadian.
    I take it you are a gentleman and shall withdraw your call for a bar with limits at wedding receptions. If not, I challenge you to a duel. It took centuries of historical development for both our English and Punjabi cultures include a tradition of the open bar policy. Or 'ye openne barr policee' as the tudors called it. I will not have their traditions tarnished by a man influenced by happenings in the new world and it's colonies. I demand you withdraw your suggestion with a promise never to repeat such filth again.

  7. Chambliss says:

    amazing ignorance and prejudice, you are "englishmen, not backwater Canadians", you must be kidding! You are perceived by many people in Canada and the US as drunks, period." I Challenge you to a duel" indeed. Are we still in the 1400's? Everyone knows about the highly publicized plight of the Punjab, where "70 percent of the youth are drug addicts". Shame, shame. shame! The Sikhs have a proud history and a rich spiritual tradition, which is currently eclipsed and blighted by substance abuse, the world knows this, make no mistake sir. You are not perceived as gentlemen. You are perceived as prejudiced, arrogant drunks who just stepped out of the dark ages. Face your issues squarely"gentlemen"! I work in the criminal justice system in Bellingham WA. Most of the alcohol-related charges which Punjabi's receive (and Punjabi's always seem to be doing something absurd due to alcohol) in the states occur the morning after drinking events, and the Blood Alcohol Content is often higher at noon the next day than any other ethnic group I've ever seen. You make first nations people look Good!! If you are the gentlemen you claim to be, you need to polish your community's drinking habits up a bit, as without a doubt you are currently seen from the outside as the worst drunks in the West.