Trishna Singh OBE was born in Glasgow in the 1950s, a first generation Scottish Bhat Sikh. Her father came to the UK in the late 1930s and her mother followed after the Partition ofIndia by the British in 1947. Trishna left school, at the age of 13, with no qualifications.
She had an arranged marriage, aged 21 and moved to Edinburgh to live with her husband. As a young girl, she questioned the cultural requirements of her community which stated that married women were subservient to their mothers-in-law and their husbands, and existed solely to have children and look after their families, in direct opposition to theteachings of the Sikh religion which states man and woman are equal. And although Trishna’s marriage was a marriage of equals, she was still expected to adhere to the social and cultural restrictions placed upon her by the wider Scottish Bhat Sikh community.
Trishna’s life has been challenging, in part. She has battled against her community’s traditions which she rightly saw as archaic customs, begun in India, and designed to ‘keep women in their place’ and has lived her adult life in a city she did not grow up in but which is now her home. In 1989 she founded Leith Sikh Community Group, now Sikh Sanjog.
Its aim was to provide support for women in the Sikh community who had been settling in Edinburgh since the 1950s. Thirty-plus years later Trishna remains a director of Sikh Sanjog, along the way having studied and attained a BA in Community Learning and Development. A Silent Voice Speaks is her story.