Security guards employed by Sikh temples to protect worshippers are telling protesters about marriage ceremonies taking place between mixed-faith couples, according to one campaigner.
Bhervinder Singh, project coordinator of Sikh 2 Inspire, told Eastern Eye protests against mixed marriages were happening in gurdwaras because demonstrators believe the service, known as Anand Karaj, should only take place between Sikhs.
The 35-year-old claimed that activists were finding out about ceremonies taking place from Sikh workers employed by security guards to protect family members.
Relatives of mixed faith couples who planned on having an Anand Karaj ceremony are also informing demonstrators about upcoming weddings, revealing details about the venue and time of the service, Singh said.
Brides and grooms-to-be are now being urged not to distribute wedding invites in case the information is passed on.
In the latest high-profile demonstration, masked members of Sikh Youth UK gathered at the Gurdwara Sahib Lemington Spa two weeks ago during an eight-hour protest against a wedding.
Police arrested 55 people at the scene and seized a number of kirpans – daggers which are a symbol of the faith.
Singh said: “We find out (about weddings) from the gurdwaras themselves. They hire security firms, the security firms they hire also have Sikhs working for them and they (security guards) tell us: ‘We’re going to the gurdwara this weekend because there’s a mixed marriage’.
“The security firms work with some of our guys. There are also family members who disagree with it happening as well. They try to convince them (the couple) that they can’t do this. Then they tell organisations and contact the gurdwara and the family.”
Singh added that family members are usually spoken to before a protest is due to take place, as was the case in Leamington Spa.
“The family was aware and spoken to previously by organisers. It was organised by a lot of young people from around the country. We are trying to educate people – when people are not willing to sit down, peaceful protest is the way to do it.”
Singh believes that the police were heavy handed in their approach to the protesters at Leamington Spa.
Their kirpans have now been returned by officers; however the Sikh Federation, which aims to give Sikhs a stronger political voice, has asked for an explanation as to why the weapons were kept.
It is not illegal to carry knives for religious purposes in the UK.
Singh said members of the community were against the “misuse of the Anand Karaj”.
“The ceremony is only to be conducted between a Sikh marrying another Sikh,” he said.
“Anyone from another faith that wants to be part of the Anand Karaj will have to adopt the Sikh faith – that might be through an education program and changing their last name to Singh or Kaur.”
The Sikh Council has argued that the ceremony should only take place between Sikhs and issued guidelines to temples. Last year it called for a halt to protests.
However, many in the Sikh community disagree with the belief, saying Sikhism teaches equality and acceptance.