Conversion and Gender Among Diasporic Punjabi Women In Singapore and Texas
Bennett, Raishym H.
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“Conversion” derives from the Latin verb converto—to turn back or around, to change, to translate, to turn in a particular direction, to direct, to devote” (Faubion 2001, pg 23) Why are some Hindu and Sikh women converting to Christianity? This research seeks to understand the drastic choice towards change that Indian women are making. Conversion changes the entire social organization of ones’ life. As Indian-Christians, women are not bound by the ritual and tradition of Hinduism/Sikhism. Upon conversion Indian women relinquish certain elements of Hinduism/Sikhism. I believe women are converting to change their social order and improve their economic opportunities. Specifically, I will be looking at Punjabi-Indian-Americans living in the metropolitan city of Dallas, Texas at the United Christian Church, as well as Punjabi-Christians living in Singapore at the Parish of Christ Church. I will focus on women from Northern India-Punjab, currently living in the United States (U.S.), and how their lives have changed through religious conversion from Hinduism/Sikhism to Christianity (Pentecostal). The focus is upon the religious changes that have come after conversion. There is also a large population of Punjabi’s living in Singapore, and the Parish of Christ Church is known for the conversion of Hindus/Sikhs to Christianity. The relevance of Singapore in this research is to create a multi-sided ethnographic study on conversion in the lives of Punjabi’s in the U.S and those Punjabi’s living in Singapore. Through my research in Dallas and Singapore I will develop a method of multi-sited ethnography. Conversions do differ from one another across different dimensions; however, Punjabi’s in Singapore and Punjabi’s in Dallas, Texas are from the same social group—regionally and ethnically.