Sunday, September 25, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

GURU NANAK DARBAR, TATT KHALSA DIWAN SELANGOR, KUALA LUMPUR

No. 24 Jalan Raja Alang, 50300 Kuala Lumpur

THE ORIGIN OF THE WORD "TATT KHALSA".

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur (renamed Gurbax Singh after his baptism) assumed the leadership of the Khalsa Panth after the death of Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1708. He attacked Samana in 1709 and captured Sirhind on 12th May 1710, killing Nawab Wazir Khan its Subedar at the battle of Chappar Chiri. The Sikhs occupied the city of Sirhind on 14th May 1710. To commemorate this event, a new era was declared by the Sikhs starting with Samvat era 1 = 1710 AD. This newly declared era did not last very long. Baba Banda Singh was executed in New Delhi in 1716, and after his martyrdom, this era faded into oblivion.

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur issued the first silver Sikh Rupee coins in Samvat year 2 (1711). A second issue followed this in Samvat year 3 (1712). These Sikh Rupee coins are believed to have been issued from his capital at Mukhlispore (which was renamed Lohgarh) near Sadhaura.

After his initial victories, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur introduced some unpopular practices in Sikhism, like the new salutation "Fateh Darshan" the war cry of the Sikhs, after setting up his headquarters at Lohgarh Fort. It was not his intention to replace the accepted salutation "Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh" . However, in practice "Fateh Darshan" came to be popularly used by his followers. The Khalsa Panth condemned the use of this phrase and Baba Banda Singh withdrew these words immediately.

The orthodox Sikhs did not like the new practices that were adopted by the followers of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. These controversies led to a division of the Khalsa Panth into two groups: "Tatt Khalsa" who did not want any of the doctrines and practices laid down by Guru Gobind Singh Ji to be changed and "Bandei Khalsa" who approved of the practices introduced by Baba Banda Singh. Bandeis was the name given to the followers of Baba Banda Singh who regarded him to be the spiritual successor of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, The Sikhs accept only the Holy Book. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, as the one and only true spiritual successor of the Guru.

In 1721, the followers of the Tatt Khalsa expelled the Bandei Khalsa followers from the mainstream Sikh Panth. The Bandei Khalsa have now become almost extinct and only a few still survive.

TATT KHALSA DIWAN SELANGOR, KUALA LUMPUR

By 1910, there was a large community of Sikhs who resided in the Setapak and Ampang areas in Kuala Lumpur. Most of these Sikhs worked as bullock cart drivers, dairy farmers, watchmen or had their own businesses. A fair number of these Sikhs were from the Malwa region of Punjab.

New Tatt Khalsa Diwan Gurdwara building
Architect: Binarancang Chartered Architects & Town Planners, K.Lumpur

The design concept of the new Gurdwara Sahib is based on the art and architecture period of Guru Arjun Dev Ji. The new Gurdwara Sahib incorporates the symbolic dimensions of 5 and 10 - the Darbar Sahib will be elegantly designed with 10 full length bay windows with salient aspects of the Gurbani, scriptures and art of the period of the Gurus.

The central dome, similar in form to that of the Golden Temple in Amritsar will be covered with gold mosaic and its interior will have an inner ceiling with tiny lights depicting the stars above Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

In 1918, Bhai Kala Singh Kheda, District Ludhiana, who resided in the General Hospital quarters in Kuala Lumpur, decided to hold a Jormela. He managed to convert an empty ward into a temporary Gurdwara Sahib. Giani Gurbaksh Singh Ji from Tapah in Perak was invited to conduct kirtan and prayers. Giani Gurbaksh Singh did the katha from the Holy Book, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

In 1919, the Sikh community, under the leadership of Bhai Kala Singh, passed a resolution to rent premises at Number 13, Pahang Road, Kuala Lumpur. These premises were converted into a Gurdwara Sahib and the Holy Book, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, was respectfully placed therein. In April 1920, the Vesakhi celebrations were celebrated on a large scale in this Gurdwara Sahib.

During the Vesakhi celebrations in April 1920, Bhai Kala Singh proposed that a larger Gurdwara Sahib should be built in Kuala Lumpur with facilities for a school to teach Gurmukhi and religious education. This proposal was unanimously approved by all present. At this time, the "Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor" was established to manage the affairs of the new Gurdwara. The first Management Committee comprised of Bhai Waryam Singh Bhinder, President; Sardar Utam Singh Waddi Sadiali, Vice President; Babu Budh Singh Railway Workshop, Secretary; Sardar Jawala Singh Kuang, Assistant Secretary; Bhai Jaimal Singh Wadda Sekha, Treasurer and twelve committee members viz: Bhai Hazara Singh Waduwal, Bhai Hazura Singh Jalaldiwal, Bhai Chet Singh Kaleke, Bhai Bajan Singh Rode, Sardar Rakha Singh Akaliawala, Bhai Phuman Singh Neahmiwala, Sardar Thakur Singh Ampang, Bhai Chanda Singh Railways, Bhai Kesar Singh Kajang and Bhai Inder Singh Police Department.

These Management Committee members were predominantly Malwais from the Malwa region of Punjab. (District of Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Bhatinda, Sangrur, Nabha, Patiala, Faridkot and Maler Kotla). Regional loyalties were very much practiced in those days. A majority of these Sikhs belonged to various religious groups who practiced the Tatt Khalsa doctrines.
The main objectives of the Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor was to propagate Sikhism, to safeguard the rights of the Sikhs, make representations to the Government when necessary, to educate the Sikh community, spread Punjabi education and promote unity and feelings of brotherhood among the Sikhs.

With the assistance of Captain Graham, the Chief Police Officer of Selangor, the Management Committee succeeded in obtaining the present site, Land Grant Lot No. 689 in the town and district of Kuala Lumpur which is 1 acre 2 roods 34.7 poles (1.718 acres) in size, at No. 24, Perkins Road (now renamed as Jalan Raja Alang) on 18th July 1922. (Government Gazette Notification No. 4581 of 1922)

Donations were raised from the Sikh Sangat to build the Gurdwara Sahib and school building.

The Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor, Gurdwara Sahib and Punjabi school in Kuala Lumpur was completed in early 1924 at a cost of Straits Settlements $17,200.00. Bhai Waryam Singh Bhinder officially declared this Gurdwara Sahib open on Vesakhi day on 13th April 1924.

Over the years, the former Gurdwara Sahib complex was expanded to serve the needs of the growing, Sikh congregation. Facilities like the Gurdwara Sahib kitchen, Langgar hall, Granthi's quarters, visitors rooms as well as rooms for needy Sikhs were built.

In the past, the Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor had assisted the Sikh community through the difficult period of the Second World War and the Japanese occupation of Malaya, the British Military Administration (BMA) period and the subsequent communist insurgency and finally Malaya's march to Merdeka (Independence) in 1957.

The Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor played an important role in promoting Punjabi education. In the Punjabi school, both religious and Gurmukhi education was imparted. The Diwan gradually introduced technical and electrical courses with instructors from the Central Railways Workshop, Sentul and the Electrical Department. This Diwan also sponsored the first Sikh Educational Conference, which was held in the Tatt Khalsa Punjabi School in 1937. In the 1950's, two school buses were acquired to provide transport for the students. A special body, the Khalsa Vidyak Sabha managed the school. The Tatt Khalsa Diwan contributed a considerable sum of money annually to upkeep the Punjabi school. By the early 1990's, the attendance at this school had dwindled considerably. In 1994, the school building was demolished to make way for the Wisma Tatt Khalsa. The school was housed in the Langgar Hall where temporary classrooms were made. Finally, this school was closed in 1998.

Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor has played an important role in promoting Sikhism. Numerous pamphlets on the Sikh Religion were printed over the years and distributed free. Gurdwara Sahib Tatt Khalsa's leaders produced the Khalsa Malaya Darpan, a Punjabi newspaper, in the inter-war years. Since 1984 Malaya Samachar, the only Punjabi newspaper in South East Asia. has been published from its premises.

In 1955, it organised the first Granthi Training Course and Sikh SameIan at Tatt Khalsa School where Professor Taran Singh of Khalsa College Amritsar delivered lectures. Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor also took the initiative to organize an All-Malayan Sikh Conference in 1973 to oppose the crash helmet law passed by the British Government in the United Kingdom (U.K.), which gave the Sikhs no exemption from it. The Diwan sent a telegram to the British Prime Minister. Mr. Edward Heath requesting him to re-consider his decision and assuring the support of the Malaysian Sikhs for the Sikhs of the U.K. in their appeal for exemption from wearing crash helmets.

Tan Khalsa Diwan Selangor forwarded to the Federal Government a resolution in 1963 when Indonesian President Soekarno launched his confrontation against Malaysia. It reads, "We consider it our duty to serve our country where we enjoy full democracy, many privileges and live a contented life. It is nothing new for us to make sacrifices, as the various war memorialsin the country bear eloquent testimony that we never have shirked our duty. Although we are few in number, we are at the disposal of the Government."

All this while, Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor has been the breeding ground for the growth of formal Punjabi education via the Punjabi School and the Khalsa Vidyak Sabha. Socio-religious and cultural development was promoted via the Punjabi Sahitik Sabha Malaya, the Granthi Parcharak Sabha, the Panch Khalsa Diwan, and the Guru Nanak Guru Gobind Singh Foundation. It has also been a springboard for intellectual and literary pursuits in many other ways such as seminars, refresher courses, samelans, and poetry and music contests.
In 1975, the Urban Development Authority proposed that the Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor be relocated. The Management Committee felt that this location had to be retained due to its centralized location. Sikh leaders like Dato G. S. Gill, Datuk Keshmahinder Singh, past Presidents Sardar Naib Singh Kapure, Sardar Pall Singh Malhi and Sardar Ranjit Singh Kaleke met with the Land Office officials and the then Datuk Bandar (Mayor) Encik Abdul Latiff. These discussions were fruitful and the Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor was allowed to continue its existence at its present location.

In 1994, work commenced on the Wisma Tatt Khalsa building. This six storey complex was completed in April 1996 at a cost of approximately RM4,300,000.00. This complex caters to the present needs of the Sikh community. The ground floor is rented out to generate income to maintain this complex. On the first floor is the Sri Dasmesh kindergarten as well as a large air-conditioned hall, which can be used to hold various functions like birthdays, anniversaries, engagements or wedding receptions. This hall is able to accommodate about 800 people. The second floor houses the Malaya Samachar Press, which is the only Punjabi newspaper in Malaysia, the Tatt Khalsa Diwan office, and a library which has a collection of about 1,500 books for reference. The Sri Dasmesh School is located on the second and third floor. The fourth floor has a seminar/conference room, one apartment for ragis and kirtan jathas, Sikh Naujawan room, 12 rooms for rental, a cafeteria for students and an indoor badminton court.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the new Gurdwara Sahib building, known as the Sri Guru Nanak Darbar Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor, was held on 14th April 1999. The late Giani Bachittar Singh Ji laid the foundation stone of this new Guru Nanak Darbar building. The construction of the building took nearly three years to complete at a cost of RM7,000,000.00. The late Sardar Ranjit Singh Kaleke, Datuk G. S. Gill, Datuk Dr Keshmahinder Singh and Sardar Inder Singh Khosa were instrumental in the building fund drive to spearhead the building to its completion. The government of Malaysia donated RM200,000.00 towards the construction of this building.

The new Guru Nanak Darbar Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor is situated on a piece of land, which is 0.8 hectares in size. The basement of this building has a parking space for about 100 vehicles. The ground floor contains a large dining hall and kitchen. The first floor consists of the Darbar Sahib where the Holy Book, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, is placed.

The new Guru Nanak Darbar building has four towers with a minaret like dome at each of the four corners. The main dome of the building is decorated with yellow mosaic. Dome shaped concrete lotus petals with lotus seeds adorn the base of the pumpkin-shaped domes. The topmost portion of the pinnacle of the central dome has a miniature umbrella known as the shatri, which symbolises shelter for mankind.

At present, the Guru Nanak Darbar. Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor is the largest Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Malaysia as well as South East Asia. The Darbar Sahib of this Gurdwara Sahib can seat about 1,500 people.

The soft opening of the new Guru Nanak Darbar was held on 10th April 2002. The Holy Book, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, was very respectfully carried in a procession from the Wisma Tatt Khalsa building to the Guru Nanak Darbar accompanied by the Sikh sangat and the Dasmesh Band. This ceremony was officiated by Shrimati Pritam Kaur w/o the late Sardar Ranjit Singh Kaleke.

One of the longest serving Granthi of the Tatt Khalsa Diwan Gurdwara was the late Giani Bachittar Singh Ji Village Bhai ka Bhagta, Faridkot who served for about 30 years from around 1960 to 1991. In appreciation of his long service, he was allowed to stay in the Granthi's quarters until his demise on 7th December 2001. His countless students who studied Gurmukhi, Kirtan and Shud Path since the 1940's will fondly remember him. Giani Bachittar Singh Ji was respectfully designated as the Head Granthi and religious representative of the Sikh community at important Government events.

The management committee comprises of the President, two Vice-Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer and their assistants as well as 14 committee members.
There is a Sikh Assistant Register of Marriages in this Gurdwara Sahib who officiates at the marriage ceremony if called upon to do so. However, the actual marriage ceremony is performed by the Granthi in accordance with Sikh religious rites.

There are presently about 500 families who participate in the religious activities held in this Gurdwara Sahib.

The Asa di War Kirtan is held daily from 6.30a.m. to 7.30a.m. from Monday to Saturday. The normal weekly prayers are held on Sunday mornings from 6.30a.m. to 8.30a.m. with the commencement of the Asa Di War and Ardas. Other religious programmes may be held from 9.30a.m. to I I .3a.m. as and when necessary, at the request of the Sangat.
The Naujawan Satsang is held every Thursday evening from 6.30p.m. to 8.30p.m. The Isteri Satsang programme is held every Tuesday afternoon from 2.00p.m. to 4.00p.m.

Courtesy:
Sikh Gurudwaras in Malaysia&Singapore
Saran Singh Sidhu AMN,PNM,FRNS

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