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Singapore's Central Gurdwara Re-opened After Renovations





Donning a white scarf, President Tony Tan Keng Yam of Singapore joined 800 Sikh-Singaporean men and women in a special diwan at the newly renovated Central Gurdwara on Friday, December 23, 2011..

As hymns filled the air, Dr Tan unveiled a plaque to mark the official re-opening of Singapore's biggest gurdwara, after two years of renovation works.

The new building on Towner Road has a gleaming white facade with 12 domes and arched windows.

The local community, led by Sikh businessmen, contributed to the renovation works, carried out over the past two years which cost more than USD 3.47 million, said the Gurdwara Management Committee President Karpal Singh.

The Gurdwara's modern features include WiFi internet, environment-friendly energy conservation lightings, and handicap-friendly facilities.

Singapore''s 12,000-strong Sikh community has seven gurdwaras across the island.


December 25, 2011

Conversation about this article

1: Amarjeet Singh (Chandigarh, Punjab), December 25, 2011, 10:08 AM.

It's nice to see the new gurdwara building. I'm a film producer. I have done a lot of work on Sikh history through my documentary films. I wish to visit Singapore and other Eastern countries to screen my films. I have been to U.K., Europe, U.S.A. and Canada with my films and got tremendous response from the sangat. Please let me know if it is possible to arrange some shows for the sangat in Singapore.

2: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, U.S.A.), December 25, 2011, 7:11 PM.

Amarjit ji, nice to know that you have worked on various Sikh history films. Please advise where these films are available to see or buy copies.

3: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), December 25, 2011, 7:31 PM.

Singapore is where the Sikh 'Freedom Fighters' were banished to by the Brtish immediately after annexing Punjab. Later, a purpose-built prison was built in the middle of the Bay of Bengal. The first Freedom Fighter of South Asia, and the first who would not surrender to the British was Bhai Maharaj Singh whose story is the most emotional and powerful of all, especially his final years in the Singapore Jail. His life is celebrated through a memorial at this gurdwara.

4: Gurcharan Singh Kulim (Brentwood, United Kingdom ), December 29, 2011, 9:19 AM.

The Sikh population of Singapore was 15,000 strong three years ago. It can only have increased, not decreased. Singapore is rich in Sikh history. Bhai Maharaj Singh is said to be the first Sikh recorded on the island when he was banished there by the Brits, after the fall of the Sikh Kingdom. A samadh appeared where he was cremated, and this was the centre of much controversy in the community for many years in the early and late 60s. It was later removed and brought to the present gurdwara, if I am not mistaken. The Sikh Police revolted against the British in the thirties, and as a result they were never fully trusted, especially after involvment with the Indian National Army (INA) which was founded by Gen. Mohan Singh to help liberate India from the Brits. In the 60s, the last Sikh bastion in Singapore - the Naval Base Sikh Police - numbering about 3,000 (plus other dependent posts) was disbanded and most either returned to India, some came to the United Kingdom, and others went to Canada and Australia. The Singapore Sikh community has done pretty well, considering their small numbers in the Republic. Sikh-ASingaporeans were the first community back in 1960s to donate a series of ambulances to the country during the course of the Guru Nanak Quincentennial Birth Celebrations.

5: Manjeet Shergill (Singapore), December 29, 2011, 8:05 PM.

My dad who worked to build the first general hospital in Singapore also drove the donated ambulance - to ferry the limited number of nurses from one hospital to another. After meeting the Sikhs in North America, I can't help saying that Sikhs in South-east Asia are generally so much more generous in spirit and have less pretensions.

6: Gurcharan Singh Kulim (Brentwood, United Kingdom), December 30, 2011, 6:51 AM.

Manjeet ji: I cannot help commenting. I too experienced this when I first arrived in the United Kingdom. Then I was in the United States for about a year related to my work, which also took me to Canada for 18 months, and to New Zealand as well. I had noted the same. The Sikhs in South-East Asia were not only generous but also very warm and genuinely welcoming when they met fellow Sikhs. But that is also now disappearing in Malaysia and Singapore as I have noted over the last few years of visiting. The Sikhs in South-East Asia arrived for different reasons and being within another Asian culture had many similarities and warmth, and were readily accepted locally. But those going to the West were economically driven, and arrived into a not very warm and sometimes even a hostile and readily critical culture of the newcomers; they developed an insular approach, somewhat more-self-centred. But I must say this is disappearing as Sikh communities have increased in numbers and with the renaissance of Sikhi among the youth, and a more enlightened acceptance by the western cultures is eradicating that feeling of isolation, rejection and insular outlook. Sikhs are doing very many charitable works and taking increasing part in building local communities. We must also not forget that Sikhs in South-East Asia are a far more well established and historically older Sikh communities than those in the western countries, and thus the level of social understanding is different. But as Sikhs, we all seek 'sarbat da bhalla' and need to ensure we as Sikhs remain rooted to our values and principles and teachings of Guru Granth Sahib, sharing them more often rather than occasionally with the host communities, and ensure we ourselves understand ourselves well.

7: Manjeet Shergill (Singapore), December 31, 2011, 2:17 AM.

I was at the Central Gurdwara today for the first time since the renovations and I was impressed - I congratulated the committee for their efforts. lovely transformation - lots of light and ventilation - I am still not sure of the fortress-like structure but it has opened up from inside and it is indeed more spacious and connected to the outside environment. More friendly-looking. Best gurdwara I have seen so far. The all male committee did good. Well done!

8: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), January 01, 2012, 12:04 AM.

What is needed now is an all female committee ... or, at the very least, a committee with equal representation! It would be interesting to see how our Sardarnis would run things. It can only improve!

9: Liz Tan (Singapore), May 09, 2012, 4:07 AM.

My daughter's primary school will be paying a visit to a gurdwara during her education tour. May I know where can I buy a head scarf for her? [EDITOR: You don't need to buy a special one. Any scarf that covers the head will do. Also, if she doesn't have one, she'll be able to borrow one from the premises as she enters the gurdwara.]

10: Raj Singh Nar (Karachi, Pakistan), July 26, 2014, 7:20 AM.

This is very beautiful.

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