Grana Padano: an Italian excellence saved by Sikh people

The term “Sikh” refers to the community which has mainly influenced the fate of one of the excellences of Italian gastronomy: the Grana Padano.
The majority of Sikh people are native of Punjab region, an Indian state that borders on Pakistan; their name come from their religion, the Sikhism.

Well, what have Sikhs got to do with Italian cheese?

If you want to discover it, you have to go in the province of Cremona, where this community is very integrated; in effect, Sikh people work in dairy production since two generations. When Italians left this sector in the aim of looking for more qualified jobs, the contribution supplied by Sikhs had been fundamental.
«Young people no longer wanted to work in stables» says Dalido Malaggi, the ex Cremonese major of Pessina during an interview with Laura Lisanti for The Post Internazionale. He also claims: «It was a traditional job of our territory, but without local manpower, these people had saved dairy economy». This situation is pretty well illustrated by “Sikh Formaggio”, a documentary shot by Dan Duran, Katie Wise and Devyn Bisson.


At first period, there were some adjustment problems, such as haircuts and the decision to give turbans up; however, Sikh community has gradually been able to integrate its cultural and religious identity within Italian background.
In Italy, today, there are 70.000 Indian Sikhs that form the second largest community in Europe, after United Kingdom. Their life concentrate around Gurudwara temple; in the Cremonese city of Pessina rise up one of the biggest Sikh temples of Europe, in which Indians gather to pray and preserve their customs.
Another considerable Sikh community dwells in Novellara, where it’s possibile to admire the Gurdwara Singh Sabha temple, the most antique one built in Italy.
The video and the photo gallery that you may watch here describe the opening ceremony of Pessina temple, which took place in August 2011.

Not only Sikh people

There are many and various cases proving how important immigrants contribution to our agricultural and economic production is.
According to the 2014 Statistical Dossier on Immigration – UNAR Report, currently in Italy, there are 322.000 immigrants (coming from 169 different nations) with a regular job in the agricultural sector. Nowadays, in our countrysides, about a quarter of manpower is composed by foreign workers: Romanians (117.008), Indians (28.384), Moroccans (26.598), Albanians (25.702), Poles (19.969), Bulgarians (13.427) and Tunisians (12.334).
Our leading productive districts survive thanks to the employment of immigrants; we can see this, for example, in northern stables, where workers knead milk to produce Parmigiano Reggiano or in the Val di Non area, in which foreign people harvest apples.
All things considered, immigrant workers contribute actively to the growth of Italian agricultural economy and represent an essential component within the context of Made in Italy primacy in the world.

Originally written by Viviana Brun (CISV). Translated into English by Arianna Rimoldi.

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