Glasgow, Scotland, has a New GurdwaraAMANDA KEENAN
It's gold dome is set to become a city landmark and this weekend Scotland’s gurdwara will open its doors.
Costing £4million to complete, the beautiful building in Glasgow has stayed true to the architectural design of the traditional gurdwara in Punjab.
It will become a spiritual home to the area's 10,000 Sikhs and is the first purpose-built gurdwara here – complete with large diwan hall, education centre and langar hall which will provide free vegetarian food to thousands every week.
Set to attract more than 1000 visitors each week, the gurdwara in Albert Drive, Pollokshields, is open to all faiths and its leaders hope it will help to break down barriers in what has become a truly multi-cultural city.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s (April 28, 2013) opening ceremony, Glasgow Gurdwara president Surinder Singh said: “The construction and opening of this gurdwara is perhaps the biggest step taken since the initial decision by my forefathers to settle in Scotland.
“This will provide Sikh-Scots with a special and sacred place that allows us to practice our faith, come together and learn.
“The new facility will give us a huge amount of opportunity to share with the wider community the beauty of our faith. It’s with great pleasure and pride that we are about to open and we welcome everyone to pay a visit.”
The Sikh community has rallied around to bring the exciting project to life, with some donating six-figure sums.
Builder Hardeeep Singh Deerhe has been helping to put the finishing touches to the building.
He said: “I’ve put all my own work to one side to concentrate on getting everything ready for the grand opening.
“That’s how much it means to us. We are willing to miss out on working and making money to help.
“It’s fantastic for the community and everyone who has a trade has been pitching in – we are all keen to be involved. I’m very proud to say that I have helped to build our gurdwara.”
Former Labour MP Mohammed Sarwar has also helped.
He originally wanted to purchase the land to build a cash and carry but quickly pulled out when he heard the Sikh community wanted to use the site.
Spokesman Gurjit Singh said: “Mr Sarwar has been very supportive.”
Inside the gurdwara, the large kitchen will provide hot meals every day and volunteers Ranjit and Kameljit Kaur, from Glasgow, are just a few of many people willing to help.
Ranjit, 51, said: “I’ll be here helping to prepare cooked meals and I’m also making sweets which we will give away at the grand opening.
“The kitchen is everything I hoped it would be. Today is the first time I’ve been able to see it and the community has worked so hard to deliver this.”
Kameljit, 57, said: “It’s wonderful and we’re hoping other religions will come here, learn a bit about our faith and see how the gurdwara works. We prepare all of the meals and we serve them in the large dining area.
“We believe everyone is equal and we all sit on mats on the floor to eat.”
Mohinder Kaur, 70, from Glasgow, has spent the past 32 years volunteering and is looking forward to welcoming new faces through the doors.
She said: “The old gurdwara was getting too small for our needs and this new building will allow us to grow as a community and leave a legacy for future generations. This means so much to all of the Sikh community and I’m very honoured to be a part of it.”
The most sacred and important part of the gurdwara is the imposing prayer room where the holy book is kept on a raised throne, under a royal canopy.
The room is designed to fit up to 1000 people and is where prayers and wedding ceremonies will take place.
Surrinder said: “Every single person must take off their shoes and cover their heads before they can enter this room.
“This is the most important part of the building and our holy scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, is kept in here.
“We pray, meditate and reflect here. The room is very peaceful and spiritual.”
The impressive education centre will teach young Sikhs Punjabi and will also be used to help arrivals from other countries learn English.
Journalism student Jotey Kaur Chopra, 20, is one of many volunteers who will help educate others.
She said: “This is very exciting as we now have a proper classrooms and an IT room which will make lessons that bit easier. We teach youngsters Punjabi and the importance of our religion along with the scriptures and readings.
“I’m looking forward to being in here and I think our entire community will benefit from this.”
Kiran Kaur, 17, is also looking forward to using the education facilities having just started learning about her religion three years ago.
She said: “I attend gurdwara five days a week. I think it’s a blessing that we are able to have a new gurdwara. I’ve made so many friends and everyone is like one big happy family.”
To honour the new building, Glasgow artist Jaz Singh Sandhu yesterday unveiled his painting of the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak.
Jaz said: “The painting honours our beliefs and it took weeks of work to create. It is being placed in our grand hall so that it is one of the first things people see when they come to the gurdwara.
“I hope many people from all religions and backgrounds visit this very special building. They will be made more than welcome by all members of the Sikh faith.”
The Glasgow Gurdwara officially opens on Sunday. Representatives from all faiths will attend, along with politicians.
A colourful procession from the old Gurdwara on Nithsdale Road, Pollokshields, will begin at 10.30 am and the evening will end with a firework display at 9.30 pm.
[Courtesy: Daily Record. Edited for sikhchic.com]
April 26, 2013
Conversation about this article
1: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA..), April 26, 2013, 9:07 AM.
The message reads that every single person must take off shoes and cover his/her head before entering the 'prayer room' (diwan hall). In our gurdwara, besides the prayer area, they do not allow shoes and without head covering to enter into the Langar Hall. It seems, either the message is posted incorrectly or for 'langar hall' shoes and head coverings are not a necessary requirement. Either case, it needs to be clarified. Generally, langar is served after the bhog (conclusion of the service) and people go directly to the langar hall.
2: Gurpal (Wolverhampton, United Kingdom), April 26, 2013, 11:31 AM.
Ajit ji, regarding your last sentence: generally, in most UK gurdwaras, especially the larger ones, we have three langars: breakfast in the morning (paranthaas on Saturdays, pakoras / samosas on Sundays), then full langar from about 11.30 am onwards after the morning bhog, and then evening langar. People don't have to wait for bhog at mid-day and can get langar as and when.
3: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA..), April 28, 2013, 7:05 PM.
Gurpal ji: I appreciate the flexibility available to the sangat to take langar 'as and when' in the gurdwaras. But my basic question remains unanswered. That is, to enter into the langar hall, does the sangat have to follow the "no-shoes, heads covered" policy?
4: Sarvjit Singh (Millis, Massachusetts, USA), April 30, 2013, 12:50 PM.
This is wonderful news. Are there many Sikhs in Scotland and how are they treated there? Also, in response to Ajit Singh ji's post: I had seen in some Canadian and English gurdwaras that they let people into the langar hall without head-coverings. Langar halls have become buffet rooms. Not sure if this gurdwara is one of those or not. Though, I feel that the two bibis on the cover photo do have juttis on. In that respect gurdwaras in USA have maintained their traditional character (good and bad both).
5: Jamil Mirza (lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.), May 02, 2013, 1:42 AM.
Congratulations for the opening / inauguration of the new gurdawara.