Central Sikh Temple (Wadda Gurdwara)
Central Sikh Temple (Wadda Gurdwara)
No.2 Towner Road, Singapore 327804. Tel: 299 3855
In 1912, with the assistance of a Sindhi merchant named Wassiamull, a group of Sikhs bought a bungalow with a large compound at 175 Queen Street and turned it into a gurdwara. The gurdwara became known as the Central Sikh Temple when other temples were established. It was also known as the Wadda Gurdwara (‘The Big Temple’).
The temple was reconstructed in 1921. The congregation hall was on the first floor and the kitchen and other facilities on the ground floor. It is the custom for Sikh temples to provide food and lodging to travellers.
In 1937, the government decided to set up a corporate board of trustees for the temple. In 1940, the Queen Street Gurdwara Ordinance was enacted. It provided for a board of trustees named the Queen Street Gurdwara Board of Trustees (Incorporated) made up of equal numbers of nominees from the Majha, Malwa and Doabha factions of the congregation.
In 1925, rivalry for leadership amongst the factions led them to form their own gurdwaras. Today, these gurdwaras are registered as societies and only two Sikh temples are recognised as public temples. The Central Sikh Temple remains the main temple for all Sikhs. The Silat Road temple which is also managed by the Central Sikh Temple is the other recognised public temple.
In 1959, plans for a new temple and the move away from Queen Street to a new site in Newton were formed. There were factions in the congregation that preferred to remain in Queen Street. An adjoining plot of land with nine houses on it was purchased for $100,000. The plans for the new temple here were approved by the Government in 1963. However, it was never built due to internal disagreement.
In 1976, the land adjoining the temple site was acquired by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. A year later, the land on which the temple stood was acquired. In December 1979, the temple was vacated and was temporarily housed in the former Bukit Ho Swee Community Centre at Seng Poh Road.
Plans for a new temple in Towner Road were conceived in 1983. Its construction began in 1984 and was completed in April 1986. The Central Sikh Temple at Towner Road was officially opened in November that year.
CENTRAL SIKH TEMPLE, SINGAPORE
No. 2 Towner Road off Serangoon Road, Singapore, 327804
In 1912, a group of Sikhs found it necessary to move out of the first Sikh Police Gurdwara Sahib at Pearl Hill in Singapore. The Sikhs, Sindhis and Straits Settlements Police, Singapore Branch built the Queen Street Gurdwara, later known as Wadda Gurdwara. Sergeant Major Punjab Singh and Corporal Ganda Singh took the lead in raising donations from the Sikhs in Singapore and Malaya. On 31" July 1912, two adjoining plots of land at No. 175 Queen Street, having a combined area of 13,032 square feet, were purchased from a private owner. A bungalow situated therein was renovated and converted into the Gurdwara Sahib premises. Over the years, this Gurdwara Sahib was expanded to cater to the needs of the growing Sikh community.
Shortly after the establishment of the Queen Street Gurdwara Sahib, the Sikh community was beset with numerous problems. The Sikhs found themselves split into three factions; the Majha and Malwa Sikhs who were a majority and the Doaba Sikhs who were a minority. The Government intervened on 12th June 1917, took over the control of the Gurdwara Sahib, locked up the Gurdwara Sahib safe box and took away the keys. The attendance of the Sikh Sangat dwindled and so did the donations for the Guru Ka Langgar. The Majha, Malwa and Doaba Sikhs set up their own organisations.
A few dedicated Sikhs, led by General Sham Singh Rumi, went on an agitation drive to have the control of the Gurdwara Sahib returned to the Sikh community. Finally, on 24′ October 1940, the Singapore Government passed an ordinance whereby the Sikhs were given full control over this Gurdwara Sahib. At the same time, the keys to the safe box were returned to the newly appointed Management Committee.
The Queen Street Gurdwara Sahib Board of Trustees was established on 1" November 1940. It consisted of three representatives from the Majha, Malwa and Doaba Sikhs. This board was to appoint the President, Secretary and Treasurer from among its nine members. In 1977, the Singapore Government acquired the Gurdwara Sahib land in Queen Street for its urban development programme. The Sikhs were given an alternative piece of land at No. 2, Towner Road at the junction of Serangoon Road, which is about 41,000 square feet.
In December 1979, the Holy Book Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was taken in a procession of motorcars to temporary premises in the former Bukit Ho Swee Community Centre at Seng Poh Road.
In 1981, the Government gazetted the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board Act 1981. The Management Committee was to be chosen among the members of the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board which was to comprise of 25 persons. The Central Sikh Gurdwara and the Silat Road Gurdwara were both placed under the control of this Board. The Central Sikh Gurdwara Board appoints the Management Committee of the Central Sikh Gurdwara.
Sant Baba Nahar Singh Ji Sunehranwale from Punjab laid the foundation stone of the new Central Sikh Gurdwara building on 2nd April 1983. The Gurdwara building took three years to complete at a cost of S$6,500,000.00. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was placed in the new Gurdwara Sahib during Vesakhi Day celebrations in April 1986. His Excellency, Wee Kim Wee, the President of the Republic of Singapore, officially declared this new Gurdwara Sahib open on 16th November 1986. The Singapore Sikh Education Foundation, established in 1990, conducts Punjabi classes as well as kirtan (religious hymns) recitals in this Gurdwara Sahib.
The Central Sikh Gurdwara serves the needs of nearly 12,000 Sikhs living in Singapore. There are about 700 families who play an active part in the religious activities of this Gurdwara Sahib.
On 8th May 1999, the National Heritage Board of Singapore declared the Central Sikh Temple (Gurdwara Sahib) a Historical Site. The Guest of Honour, Justice Choor Singh (Rtd), unveiled a plaque to commemorate this event.
The Dr. Amar Kaur Memorial Clinic is situated in this Gurdwara Sahib premises where the needy go to seek outpatient treatment. The following Sikh organisations are all located in an annex to the Gurdwara Sahib premises;
Central Sikh Gurdwara Board
Sikh Youth Centre
Sikh Welfare Council
Isteri Satsang Sabha
Singapore Sikh Education Foundation Sikh Sewaks Singapore
This building also includes the office, library, Granthi’s quarters, a fountain in the foyer leading to the Darbar Sahib, the langgar hall, kitchen, store, classrooms and one room for visitors with special needs only.
The daily religious programme includes the morning kirtan from 7.00a.m. to 8.15a.m. and the evening kirtan and Rehras from 6.45p.m. to 7.45p.m. The Isteri Satsang programme is held on Wednesdays from 1.30p.m. to 4.30p.m. In addition, the Sangrand and Pooranmashi programmes are held every month. Other religious programmes are held as and when required at the request of the sangat.