Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Gateway to Sikhism

Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Bangkok

By the year 1911, many Sikh families had settled in Thailand. Bangkok was indeed the centre of migrant Sikhs. During that time there was no Gurdwara, so religious prayers were held in the homes of the Sikhs in rotation on every Sunday, Sangran and all the Gurpurab days.

The population of the Sikh community was on the rise, therefore in the year 1912, the Sikhs decided to establish a Gurdwara. A wooden house was rented in the vicinity of Baan Moh, a well known business area.Thereafter, the place was decorated so that prayers could commence at this new Gurdwara. However, due to certain inconveniences, prayers and other religious duties were conducted only once a week.In the year 1913 (or the year 2456 according to the Buddhist calendar), with the increasing rise of the Sikh community in Bangkok, a new larger wooden house was leased for a long term at the corner of Phaurat and Chakraphet road. After considerable renovation and decoration, the Guru Granth Sahib was installed and religious prayers were conducted on a daily basis

Later in the year 1932 (the year 2475 according to the Buddhist calendar), the Sikhs community gathered some funds and purchased a piece of land for 16,200 baht and paid and additional 25,000 baht for the three and a half storey building plan. The new permanent Gurdwara was completed in the year 1933 was named "Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha". It took about five and a half months to construct it. On completion this Gurdwara became the centre for the Sikh devotees and the Thai people who followed the Sikh faith.

A few years later, during the World War II, the Allied Air Forces targeted to knock out the metropolitan powerhouse and the memorial bridge (Saphan Phut), which are quite adjacent to the Gurdwara. The Allied forces dropped 2 bombs, each weighing about 1,000 pounds, which went off target and fell upon the roof top of the Gurdwara. The bombs, being really heavy penetrated the roof and fell right through the building till the ground floor. At that time several hundreds of Sikhs were taking shelter at the Gurdwara under the Holy grace of Guru Granth Sahib and to everyone's surprise both the bombs (fallen on the ground) didn't explode. Miraculously no one was injured. However, due to the vibrations caused by one of the bombs that had exploded in the vicinity area behind the metropolitan powerhouse, made many cracks to the building and damaged part of the Gurdwara; thus making it impossible to continue the prayers at the Gurdwara. Prayers were stopped, while arrangements were being made to move the Gurdwara to a new location. A temporary wooden house was constructed and used as a Gurdwara. Shortly, the Gurdwara was repaired and prayers continued.

As time passed, in the year 1979, decision was made to renovate the Gurdwara and make it bigger to accommodate the increasing number of Sikhs. Together the committee of Siri Guru Singh Sabha and the other Thai-Sikhs asked for the blessing and permission from the Guru Granth Sahib to construct a new Gurdwara at the same location. The foundation stone was laid down by the Panj Piare, the Five Beloved Ones. The new Gurdwara was completed after two years in the year 1981.

courtesy: Thai Sikh .org

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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