Kids Corner

Below: Gurdwara in Holland Park, London.

Kids' Corner

Children To Run Gurdwara




A Gurdwara in London, England is handing control over to children for one day a month. Located in Holland Park in west London, it has put children at the heart of its running for its monthly Children's Divan.

The idea came from parents who wanted their children to have a bigger role in their place of worship.

The Gurdwara Khalsa Jatha in Holland Park was established in 1908 making it the oldest Sikh place of worship in the United Kingdom.

Organisers of the event said they wanted their children to sustain the gurdwara that their elders had worked so hard to create.


Navleen Kaur, who organised the event and brought along her own children, said: "There was definitely a need to change the approach because everything was in Punjabi, it was very long.

"We changed it so we could come down to the level of the children, open the space for them and let the children tell us what to do.

"The older generation created the gurdwaras. They've done great work by giving us the space, but we learn in a different way now and we don't sit down and do as we're told any more and not ask questions."

Many aspects of the day are adapted to be more child friendly than an ordinary day of worship.

The devotional songs or kirtan are shorter so that the children don't get bored.

The Punjabi language is also replaced with English, or at least translated, so everyone can understand.

The food - the Langar - which is always available at the gurdwara has been adapted. Pasta and chips are available alongside the usual Punjabi fare while dads have been brought in to cook.

Parents were encouraged to get involved as well, guiding the children in singing and painting faces.


Sanjiv Mohan Singh Ahluwalia, who brought his four year old down, says:"Takeover of the children - I think it's lovely.

"It's easy for a formal religious venue of this nature to exude a formal feel about it and to see children coming to give it a sense of life and a sense of fun, I think it's wonderful."

One of the children given a more ceremonial role was 12 year old Anahat Singh Kalra who led some devotional singing.

He said: "I did Gobinday Mukunday and I did the hand actions with it to get the younger children to join in as well.

"I think the arts and crafts help today as well - all children want their faces painted so it's fun for them."


[Courtesy: BBC. Edited for]

November 7, 2011


Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), November 07, 2011, 11:27 AM.

I'm lucky enough to be able to visit this lovely gurdwara on my trips to London. This is a great idea to bring innocence back into the gurdwaras.

2: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), November 07, 2011, 6:24 PM.

What a wonderful idea. This is hands-on experience for tomorrow's leaders. Children bring in a fresh and unbiased perspecive. Here in Malaysia, the Sikh Naujawan Sabha runs the gurdwara programme once a week when they conduct the whole ceremony themselves. There are always lessons to be learnt by the older, usually professional but ubiquitious, committee members, with the mistaken notion that if they were not there, the gurdwara would collapse. I usually suggest: just die and see, the Guru's work will go on even better.

3: Bibek Singh (Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.A.), November 08, 2011, 12:12 PM.

'Bal Singh Sabha' of our local gurdwara (Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.A.) regularly conducts all the activities of a typical divan. Details can be found at

4: Manjeet Shergill (Singapore), November 11, 2011, 8:40 PM.

It's about time children take over the management of Guru's learning/ socializing and connecting space. Creativity is the child in us who survived. I learn so much from my young son and his little friends when they come over to play - the best quality they show is honesty and I love the way they laugh and care for each other.

Comment on "Children To Run Gurdwara"

To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.