GURDWARA SAHIB GREENTOWN, IPOH, PERAK
(Formerly known as Gurdwara Sahib Ashby Road, Ipoh)
No. 104 Jalan Hospital, Greentown, 31400 Ipoh, Perak
The Gurdwara Sahib Ashby Road (now renamed Jalan Hospital) in Greentown, Ipoh is situated on a hilltop and commands a majestic view of the surroundings. The Gurdwara Sahib’s land area has been gazetted as a Temple Reserve. The early history of this Gurdwara Sahib is rather unique. It is the only Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Malaysia which has been built by the Sikhs from the Eight Division of the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army – I.N.A.).
The original building of this Gurdwara Sahib was built in 1942 by the Sikh soldiers who were interned by the Japanese in the Greentown Military Camp in Ipoh. This Gurdwara Sahib was a simple structure made of reinforced mud walls with an attap roof. It was located within the confines of the camp perimeter. Soon after this Gurdwara Sahib was built, two Battalion Commanders who were Muslims, objected to the existence of this Gurdwara Sahib in the camp. Colonel Matab Wulk, who was the Commanding Officer of the Sappers and Miners of the 8t" Division of the Azad Hind Fauj, decided that the Gurdwara had to be moved to an area outside the Military Camp.
The site of the present Gurdwara Sahib was chosen by Captain Teja Singh of the 2nd Battalion and Captain Chatar Singh of the Sappers and Miners Unit. The Sikh soldiers under their command were ordered to collect 100 bricks per soldiers and bring these to the new site of the Gurdwara Sahib. The Sikh soldiers wholeheartedly collected the bricks from wherever they could find them with great enthusiasm. The Gurdwara Sahib building was then built by the Sappers and Miners themselves on a "Karsewa" voluntary basis. This Gurdwara Sahib was completed sometime in 1944. Colonel Bishen Singh (from the Officers Training School, Batu Pahat) took over the command of the 8th Division in Ipoh at this time.
In 1945, Colonel Bhonsle assumed the command of the 8th Division. With the surrender of Japan in September 1945, the 8th Division was surrendered to the British Occupation Forces in Malaya. The Indian National Army units were moved out of Ipoh in late 1945. The I.N.A. handed over the management of this Gurdwara Sahib to Sardar Bhagwan Singh Lallpuria and the Sikh Government staff who were living in Greentown and Kampung Kepayang areas of Ipoh.
Bhai Gurdial Singh served as a Granthi in this Gurdwara Sahib for nearly 35 years from 1947 until his death in 1982. During his tenure, he performed voluntary service.
In 1954, a four-room Granthi’s quarters was built through the kind donations of a well-wisher. Mr K. Lim of Ipoh. The foundation stone of this Granthis’ quarters was laid by Mata Basant Kaur, mother of Babu Amar Singh, Court Interpreter, Supreme Court. on 16′ July 1954.
The Gurdwara Sahib reserve (Lot No. 2653N, Area: 2 Roods 28 Poles) was officially approved by the Land Office, Ipoh on 30′ May 1956. Sardar Sant Singh. a surveyor, headed the Management Committee of the Gurdwara Sahib. This Gurdwara Sahib reserve was gazetted on 21′ August 1958 Vide Notification Number 805 of the State of Perak Government Gazette.
In 1963, the Management Committee decided to build a new bigger Gurdwara Sahib. A Building Fund Committee was formed to seek donations from the Sikh sangat for this worthy project.
Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji of Malacca laid the foundation stone of the new Gurdwara Sahib building on 9th June 1964. The Gurdwara Sahib building was completed in 1965 and declared open by the Sangat. The cost of this Gurdwara Sahib building came to RM50,000.00 out of which RM25,000.00 was donated by the Government.
In 1964, the Perak State Government approved the Temporary Occupation Licence (T.O.L.) for the car park. The annual T.O.L. fee was paid till 1982 but due to unknown reasons it was discontinued in 1983. The present Parbandhak (Management) Committee has reapplied for the car park area to be allocated to the Gurdwara Sahib premises.
In 1966, the Parbandhak Committee headed by Sardar Ditt Singh of the Election Office applied for an extension of the Gurdwara Sahib land to build a Punjabi School. The adjacent land Lot Number 5055N having an area of 17,300 square feet, was approved by the Government on 2nd December 1967. A double storey building was built on this site in 1968 with donations received from the Sikh sangat. The present Management Committee under the Presidency of Sardar Gurdip Singh has applied for this land to be gazetted. The State Secretary has approved this request and this matter is now in the final stage of being gazetted by the Land Office.
The Management Committee comprises of the President, Vice President, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer and eight committee members. There is one room in this Gurdwara Sahib, which may be used by Sikh visitors for a period of not more than three days, with the prior approval of the President or Secretary. There is a Sikh Assistant Registrar of Marriages in this Gurdwara Sahib who officiates at marriage ceremonies if called upon to do so. However, the actual marriage ceremony is performed by the Granthi in accordance with Sikh rites.
Presently, there are about 200 Sikh families who participate in the religious activities in this Gurdwara Sahib. The normal prayers are held twice weekly on Wednesday evenings from 6.45p.m. to 8.30p.m and Sunday mornings from 6.45p.m. to 8.30p.m.
The Isteri Satsang programme is held on Thursday afternoons from 3.00p.m. to 5.00p.m. which commences with the Sukhmani Sahib Path, followed by the kirtan and Ardas. The Greentown Naujawan Satsang is held every Wednesday evening from 6.30p.m. to 8.30p.m.