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The religions of South Asian communities in Britain

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Religion was not a significant factor in the decision of South Asians to migrate to Britain, but during the principal period of settlement and community development, from 1950 to the present, it has become a matter of central importance. The various symbols of the religions of South Asians, whether these are aspects of dress, festivals, religious buildings or artefacts, have provided strong identifying features, and South Asians in the 1990s are often referred to as Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs rather than, for example, Indians or Pakistanis, or Asians. Many places of worship have become congregational and now function as social and cultural centres as well as places for the performance of ritual and prayer. Many have civic status. They attract local government grants, and provide representatives and leaders for police panels, community relations councils, equal opportunity agencies, education committees and welfare initiatives.