'Young, Sikh and Proud': story of Jagraj Singh to air on BBC1 on 28th January

16th January 2020   •   opinion
by Sunny Hundal
Twitter @sunny_hundal.
Credit: BBC
For the last six months I've been working on the most difficult project of my life. I can finally tell you about it.

On Tuesday 28th January, BBC One will broadcast a 40 min documentary called "Young, Sikh and Proud", a film on British Sikhs told through the life of my brother, Jagraj Singh.

Jagraj was an extraordinary character, who went from a west London estate to Oxford University, to the British Army, to being a religious leader. In a short amount of time he rose to be the most popular Sikh figure in Britain. I still have people contacting me or coming up to me and asking if I'm really Jagraj Singh's brother. Someone recently wanted to hug me just to be closer to him. It can be a surreal experience.

This was naturally an intensely emotional and difficult project. I wanted to tell the story of his journey because he is a towering figure among British Sikhs, but also because his journey into faith reflected that of many other Sikhs, even British Muslims and Hindus.

And then there was our clash, which is also central to the story.

As many of you know, Jagraj Singh and I clashed strongly on the issue of interfaith marriages being disrupted at Sikh Gurdwaras across Britain. We came to a resolution by the end, when he was really ill from cancer, but it damaged our relationship for several years.

In "Young, Sikh And Proud", I explore why we clashed and why we had different approaches to our faith. Yes, I am a Sikh even if some don't think I am. I also explore the rise of Sikh activism in Britain, and what that tells us about identity and belonging.

I interview Sikh activists like Shamsher Singh from the NSYF, I speak to Harvy Singh - possibly the most influential British Sikh police officer, I go to a Sikh camp (for the first time!), I even meet someone who disrupted an interfaith marriage.

Jagraj Singh's story wasn't just of this charismatic figure who made a name for himself through the internet (a bit like his brother). Its a story of modern Britain.

And I'm lucky to have been able to tell some of that story on the BBC's flagship channel.

"Young, Sikh and Proud" will be on BBC One on 28th January at 10.35pm to 11.20pm
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Sunny Hundal has been a journalist and commentator since 2004. He is editor-in-chief of Barfi Culture
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