Monday, June 28, 2004

CityScapes: The Gurudwara

Where work is worshipped too

The Gurudwara in the City is not just a place of worship for the Sikh community, but is also a place of service to the downtrodden in society.

The largest Sikh shrine in Bangalore, the Sri Guru Singh Sabha, is situated on the banks of the picturesque Ulsoor Lake. The sprawling white building on the edges of the lake, is indeed a well known place on the City’s landscape.

There are two groups of Sikhs in Bangalore - the first comprises natives who came to this State about 200 years ago to join the Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan’s army, who also speak Kannada at home and the second comprises Sikhs who migrated to the City recently. It is the second group of migrants which built the Gurudwara at Ulsoor.

Sri Gurusingh Sabha Gurudwara at Ulsoor was built in 1943 by A G Russell and was inaugurated in 1945. “While the Jollys and the Sahani families were the main forces behind the construction of the Gurudwara, all the community members and the Kohli and Chandoks families financed it under the leadership of Ahulwalia,” says Kuldeep Singh Rakhe, the general secretary of the Gurudwara’s Committee.
It was only later in 1975, that the first floor of the Gurudwara was built. The monument is known for its splendid structure - it has added to the beauty of the area and Kensington Road where it is situated, which is also popularly known as Gurudwara Road.

Being the biggest Gurudwara in City, a huge gathering of Sikhs come here on Wednesdays for prayer and the ‘langar’ on Sundays. All the devotees are offered free meals on Sundays, in what is known as the ‘Langar Sewa’. Around 500 people visit the Gurudwara on Sunday mornings, while more than 1,000 people visit in the afternoons and have their meal.

The ‘Langar Sewa’ is a practice based on the Guru’s concept ‘Sangath and Pangath’, which is essentially a concept to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. ‘Sangath’ is the assembly of Sikhs of all classes. And such an assembly of Sikhs sitting together to share the same meal is known as ‘Pangath’. To facilitate the Langar Sewa, a large modern kitchen has also been built inside the Gurudwara. The Gurudwara Committee called Sri Guru Singh Sabha takes care of the running of the kitchen and the maintenance of the Gurudwara.

The Sikhs contribute one-tenth of their earnings to the Gurudwara, for the upliftment of society and to benefit the poor. This practice is called ‘Daswand’. These contributions may be used to clothe the poor or for the Langar or construction of schools, dispensaries, libraries and Gurudwaras.

The Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurudwara runs a hospital called Guru Ramdas Charitable Trust Hospital. Here the poor and the ill are treated and the committee funds the poor who cannot afford treatment in bigger hospitals.

There is also a primary school at the premises run by the committee for the poor and slum dwellers in the locality. It houses seven classes from nursery to Class VII. There are around 260 students and 14 teachers says Tripjeet Joneja, the headmaster. The school is equipped with computers and an indoor playground for the children. Books and stationery are provided at subsidised rates, which is compensated by donations from philanthropists. Though these children are from poor families, they have made their presence felt in the interschool competitions. “We provide them quality education to bring out the talent within,” says Headmaster Tripjeet.

The Gurudwara has facilities for lodging and boarding for visitors and Sikh gurus who come from outside Bangalore, during cultural and religious meets. Since its establishment, the Gurudwara Committee has conducted many social activities, this year three blood donation camps were conducted here.

Among the dignitaries who have visited the Gurudwara were late former president Giani Zail Singh.

The Gurudwara today is not just a religious edifice for Sikhs in Bangalore, but is also an example of true social service to the marginalised sections of society.



At Friday, August 29, 2008 at 2:48:00 PM GMT+5:30, Anonymous Anonymous said... was soo good to read this one!!


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