Social cleavages, Deras and politics in Eastern Punjab: A study of Dera Sacha Sauda

Surinder SINGH


Abstract. The vicious conflicts erupted between the followers of Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, the head of Dera Sacha Sauda, and fundamentalist Sikhs reveals that the violence not only deepen social cleavages but also enhances the cleavages in Sikh dominated society in Eastern Punjab. The paper’s argument is that the social cleavages in the political society of Punjab give birth to religious sects (Deras) which in turn feed on them in a vicious circle. Dera as an idea and institution is itself cleavages based which gives impetus to political articulation of a given subdued culture to come forth as a challenge to the mainstream socio-cultural and religious discourse. The Deras formed distinct religious symbols, cultural traits, daily code of conduct, rituals and prayers for their followers which dreaming them an egalitarian utopian society or social space. However, by doing so the Deras are enhancing the cleavages in the society instead the elimination of the cleavages. The Dera Sacha Sauda is taken as reference for the study.

Keywords. Dera, Sacha Sauda, Cleavage, Politics, Punjab, Sikh, Society.

JEL. Z12, Z13, Y40.


Dera, Sacha Sauda; Cleavage; Politics; Punjab; Sikh; Society.

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