Sikh-Kiwis Welcome New Auckland Gurdwaraby ROWENA OREJANA
Surinder Singh's joy is deeply felt. A new Gurdwara - a Sikh place of worship - is going up near his home in New Lynn (Auckland, New Zealand).
"This is so much better," he says in halting
English. "I come daily to pray. I like this place." The grin on his
bearded face says everything he wants to express.
The Gurdwara Guru Harkrishan Sahib is the first one of its size in West Auckland.
The 745 sq m building is big enough to accommodate all its 300 members.
Surinder Singh used to travel to the gurdwaras in Otahuhu, Papatoetoe or Takanini to attend services. But because he had to be driven to these by his daughter or son-in-law, he was limited to monthly worships. "They couldn't go every Sunday because they are also preoccupied," he explains.
Although the building is still being renovated, the main throne on which the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scripture, rests is already in place.
Every day, Surinder stands before the Holy Scripture, reads, says a silent prayer and bows in reverence.
The gurdwara, however, is not limited to religious services. It will also serve as a community centre.
"It has two purposes: religious and social. We'll have assembly for worship on Sundays and, because now we have a bigger place, we can hold language classes and other workshops," says Surjit Singh, Gurdwara committee chairman.
English classes will be held for older people to help them adjust to their new country while Punjabi classes will be offered to the young.
The workshops will include cultural education plus seminars on employment, family disputes and parenting.
"This is a community service," says Surjit Singh.
"We want to unite the community and bring them together."
The worship hall is roomy and easily accessible for the elderly and disabled attendees. "It's single level and has no stairs or steps," he says.
The next room is big enough to hold the langar, the free kitchen the community shares as part of its regular services.
The gurdwara started out in a small building elsewhere on the Great North Road but it was burgled last year. Although the perpetrator has been caught, the members feel that the building's security was compromised.
building, we have security systems in place. And it is not by the road,
so it's safer," Surjit Singh says.
The gurdwara's construction is being funded by its members here and overseas. So far they have raised two-thirds of the amount needed to finish the place. Fitting it out is estimated at $90,000. "All the work here is being done by co-operation and volunteers," says Surjit Singh.
The gurdwara's formal inauguration will be held mid-April. 'We will invite the leaders of the other religions," he adds, stressing that his community is a non-political organisation.
"Our aim is to please God, not people."
Build on progress
To donate to the gurudwara, see the website: www.gurudwara.co.nz and click on the donations button. Surjit Singh may be reached at 627 6274 or 627 7277. Funds, office, library furniture and computers are needed.
[Courtesy: The Aucklander]
January 29, 2011
Conversation about this article
1: Gurcharan Singh Kulim (London, United Kingdom ), February 03, 2011, 5:59 PM.
I had occasion to visit this gurdwara in April, 2010 when visiting New Zealand. My nephew from Wellington drove us to Auckland and we spent five days there. A job well done, by Auckland's Sikh community.
2: Manjit Kaur (Auckland, New Zealand), July 06, 2011, 7:52 AM.
Very good progress. Well done. http://gurudwara.co.nz/gallery.html
3: Kamalpreet Singh Kamboj (Christchurch, New Zealand), September 28, 2011, 6:05 PM.
Waheguru ji da Khalsa, Waheguru ji di fateh.