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Tributes pour in for Sikh pillar Jit Singh Digwa who died after short illness
2:20pm Saturday 7th December 2013 in News
TRIBUTES have poured in for one of the founding fathers of Southampton's Sikh community.
Jit Singh Digwa – a longstanding former president of one of the city's main Sikh temples – died after a short illness.
The 83-year-old great-grandfather was born in Golitian in India and was the youngest of seven children.
He first arrived in Britain as an 18-year-old in the late 1940s with nothing more than a suitcase. Shortly after getting married and starting a family, Mr Digwa lived in Willenhall in the West Midlands for several years, before settling in Southampton in 1969. He worked for a number of employers including Pirelli Cables and Carrefour and helped establish the city’s Guru Tegh Bahadur temple in St Mark’s Road in the late 1980s where he served as president for number of years.
His older brother Ranjit, who died in 1978, was one of the key founders of the local Sikh temple over 40 years ago in Clovelly Road, but it moved to the new premises as the community grew.
More than 500 people gathered at the West End Crematorium, where family members wore turbans and matching shirts in his favourite colour, blue, as his coffin arrived in a horsedrawn carriage.
They released 12 doves and 83 blue balloons to celebrate each year of his life, while his 27 great-grandchildren wore T-shirts bearing his image while floral tributes in the Punjabi language for grandad, father, husband and brother were on show.
His daughter Jagdish Kaur Digwar, 50, who lives in London, hailed him as “one in a million” and added: “No one can ever replace him or his unconditional love for his family.
“He was a religious and spiritual human being who many people admired and respected.
“We will miss him dearly.”
His grandson Ronnie Digwa, 35, who lives in Southampton, spoke on behalf of all the grandchildren: “He was a man of great stature, a gentle giant with remarkable love and kindness. A true leader, with great morals and family values.
“Some of our fondest memories were when all the children would climb all over him and smother him with cuddles and he would often blow raspberries on our cheeks. “Our Grandad loved children and I remember he would often take us to the Royal Pier, Mayflower Park and treat us to an ice cream.” One of his many great-grandchildren, Ria Kaur aged 11, hailed him as an “kind, loving and supportive man, who brought a smile to everyone’s face”. Temple vice-secretary Vejapal Singh Digwa, said: “He was a key figure in the community who was very much respected.
“He was a lovable person and there aren’t many people who have as much knowledge about Sikh history and teachings as he had.”
Mr Digwa, whose hobbies included gardening and darts, leaves his wife of 63 years Kuldip Kaur Digwa, 82, seven children, 29 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren.
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