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A New Gurdwara in South Jersey, U.S.A.




Vineland, New Jersey, U.S.A.

Local Sikh-Americans have a new center for their growing community.

The South Jersey Sikh Society - the city's first Gurdwara - opened its doors to the local community on Sunday, December 5, 2010. The 8,520-square-foot gurdwara -- a place of worship for the Sikh religion -- on South Lincoln Avenue hosted hundreds of residents from across the region who came throughout the day to visit the new facility.

Hardip Singh said the local Sikh community comprises about 50 families and has grown significantly in the past 15 to 20 years. Without a gurdwara, most worshippers had to travel to Deptford or Philadelphia.

Vineland resident Sukhdev Singh was one of the many local residents who traveled 45 minutes to a gurdwara in Deptford.

"It feels really good to be here. I'm very happy," he said. "This will bring everyone from the community together."

The opening of the gurdwara also signifies a big step for the local Punjabi community, said Vineland resident Rajbir Singh Parhar.

"Before we may not know about someone in the area, but now they can all come here and we can see everybody," he said. "This will allow us to grow."

The gurdwara will have regular services Friday nights and Sunday mornings, Hardip Singh said. Since it first opened this past weekend, members held services Friday to Sunday as they read the entire "Guru Granth Sahib" - the religion's holy scripture, he said.

The congregation is open to everyone. Before entering the sanctuary, worshippers remove their shoes and cover their head. Upon entering, they walk down the center aisle and bow in reverence to the Guru Granth, which is deemed The Living Word.

Men and women sit on different sides of the room. On Sunday, all worshippers sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor and faced the front as the minstrels sang "shabads" - hymns - from the Guru Granth Sahib to music. The words were shown on a computer screen adorning the front wall in Punjabi, English and an English transliteration of Punjabi.

Services began at 9 a.m. Sunday and lasted through 1:30 p.m. Some members stayed for the entire service, while others stayed for a shorter period.

No alcohol or smoking is allowed anywhere on the premises, another sign of respect to the Guru, Hardip Singh said.

Before entering, worshippers also handed money to Hardip Singh that will be placed in a communal account and distributed in case any member falls on difficult times and needs financial assistance, he said.

The Vineland resident said the community purchased the land in September 2009 and recently completed construction. The center will hold an official grand opening in a few weeks and will host cultural events in the community.

"People are very excited to have a place in their community," he said. "They have been very happy all day."


[Courtesy: Courier Post]

December 7, 2010



Conversation about this article

1: Bibek Singh (Jersey City, U.S.A.), December 07, 2010, 9:25 PM.

Great News! The local community has been eagerly waiting for this to happen. The volunteers spent many months in collecting funds and mobilizing sevadaars. I learnt from a local resident that the efforts were in progress for over two years. Kudos to all involved! Someone rightly said - If you have the courage to start, then you have the will to succeed!

2: Perry Singh (Northglenn, Colorado, U.S.A.), December 07, 2010, 11:07 PM.

Congratulations ... keep up the good work. I like the american-style of the gurdwara. It confirms that we are very much part of this society and landscape.

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