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21-year-old accused of vandalising Sikh Gurudwara in California

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Washington: A 21-year-old man has been accused of vandalising a Sikh temple property in California in December, and will be arraigned next month, according to a media report.

Brodie Durazo of Buena Park, about 30 km from Los Angeles, has been charged with one felony count of vandalism of a religious property and two misdemeanour counts each of vandalism under $400, the Los Angeles Times reported citing prosecutors.

Durazo turned himself in on Monday and was released on $20,000 bail, the Orange County district attorney’s office said.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on February 8. If convicted, prosecutors said, he could face a maximum sentence of three years in state prison.

Gang graffiti was found scribbled on the exterior of the Sikh Centre on December 6, while an expletive and the word “ISIS” were also found scrawled on a tractor trailer that was parked at the temple, according to the Sikh Coalition.

Durazo is accused of spray-painting graffiti throughout a trailer park where he lives and of then going into the property of the Gurdwara Singh Sabha Temple and spray-painting graffiti on a dividing wall between the trailer park and the temple. He is also accused of spray-painting graffiti on the big rig.

The vandalism prompted an increase in police patrols near the religious centre and sparked fear among members of the Sikh community.

“We believe that the Gurdwara Singh Sabha was vandalized because it is a Sikh house of worship,” the coalition’s attorney Gurjot Kaur said in a statement at the time.

“We call on local and federal agencies to investigate this vandalism as a hate crime and request increased law enforcement security at the gurdwara immediately.” (IANS)

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Sikh Temple Gurudwara in Belgium closed for security reasons

Hans Bonte, Mayor of Vilvoorde town, has ordered the closure of Gurudwara

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Representational Image. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

BRUSSELS, Sept 10, 2016: Belgian authorities have ordered the closure of a Sikh gurudwara (temple) for an indefinite period citing a security threat, local media reported on Saturday.

Hans Bonte, Mayor of Vilvoorde town, has ordered the closure.

The town outside Brussels has only a dozen Sikh residents but because of the town’s central location the Vilvoorde gurudwara was well frequented, said the VRT news outlet. (IANS)

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Gurdwara Sahib Stockton: The Sikh Temple is a sanctuary of Peace and reminder of Home

The first Gurdwara in the U.S. was built in 1912 when a lot of Sikhs came to settle down in the sun-drenched Central Valley, which closely resembled their ancestral land of Punjab

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Amarjit Singh in front of Gurdwara Sahib Stockton.
  • The Gurdwara Sahib Stockton in Stockton was built by the Sikhs who had settled in America, over 100 years ago
  • According to Amarjit Singh, the Sikhs build a Gurudwara wherever they settle in the world and that is their way to keep in touch with their culture, not only their religion
  • The Gurudwara at Stockton still remains vibrant with Sikhs and visitors from all over America, even after so many years

A number of Sikhs have been living in the United States of America for 125 years, now. Currently, their population in the U.S. is 700,000.  Amarjit Singh, a U.S. based Sikh and an ex-President of the committee of Gurdwara Sahib Stockton, said that wherever there are Sikhs, there must be a Gurdwara. He further asserted that it is not only because it is a place for their religious worship but it is a part and parcel of their culture which holds the entire community together.

The Sikhs can still be recognized in the U.S. in spite of having completely adjusted to the life there. The symbols that help them to keep in touch with their origin are the steel kara around their wrist, the turban, the kirpan and their uncut hair.

Vaisakhi Day Parade. Image Source : sikhism.about.com
Vaisakhi Day Parade. Image Source : sikhism.about.com

The Gurdwara Sahib Stockton in Stockton, U.S. was built over 100 years ago. Even now it serves as a place of religious, cultural and social meetings for the Sikhs near the area. Recently, it had a number of people coming in and preparing for the 18th annual Vaisakhi Day Parade. It is said that the parade to commemorate the establishment of Khalsa by Guru Govind Singh has over a thousand pilgrims joining in. The pilgrims sing songs of praise as the procession moves through the way.

The temple, a long time ago. Image Source : pbs.org
The temple, a long time ago. Image Source : pbs.org

The first Gurdwara in the U.S. was built in 1912 when a lot of Sikhs came to settle down in the sun-drenched Central Valley, which closely resembled their ancestral land of Punjab. However, at first the Gurdwara was built with wood in Holt, west of Stockton but the committee members could not afford the land. So, they shifted to build the temple at Stockton itself.

Inside the temple. Image Source : gurdwaar.com
Inside the temple. Image Source : gurdwaar.com

Today, the Gurdwara Sahib Stockton at 1930 S. Sikh Temple Street, remains open to all visitors, even the non-religious ones. It is a two-storied building with a beautiful chandeliered ceiling. They do not have any chairs or special sitting arrangements. The Sikhs, there, are very accommodating and ever so ready to share their food and culture with others. Their only request to anybody entering the temple is that they keep their shoes outside and cover their heads. Whoever is interested in getting a meal can get a taste of the ethnic Sikh cuisine at the Gurdwara, for free.

Even after so many years, the Sikhs in the U.S. have evidently kept in touch with their roots through the Gurdwara that their ancestors had built. Singh said to the Recordnet.com that the temple “is part of our life.”

-by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.

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2 responses to “Gurdwara Sahib Stockton: The Sikh Temple is a sanctuary of Peace and reminder of Home”

  1. Even after living abroad for so many years, they have kept in touch with their roots through the Gurdwara that their ancestors had built. That shows that they are proud of their identity as Sikhs.

  2. This shows how we are connected to our religion. Religion is must for everyone in India. The Gurdwara was built to present their religion and now they are celebrating all festivals in that Gurdwra.

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The free Kitchen open to people of every religion: Guru ka langar

No one is turned away

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People in Gurdwara having Langar, Wikimedia commons

By Pashchiema Bhatia

Guru Ka Langar is a tradition where people sit on the ground, at the same level (exception for people with disabilities and elderly), regardless of religion, caste, beliefs etc. and have food served to them by volunteers. The concept of langar was initiated by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji based on his dictum of earning bread by honest means and sharing it with others and donating one-tenth of one’s income for a noble cause. Any time a Gurdwara (or, Gurudwara) is open; everyone is welcomed to have a hot meal. It has ensured the participation of women and children to volunteer and render service to mankind. Preparations of the meal are done by women and children help in serving the food.

In the most revered Gurdwara, The Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab , India , at least 50,000 devotees or tourists are served daily in the community kitchen and the number becomes almost double on special occasions. Even the Mughal King Akbar sat among common people and shared langar.

Women preparing roti for langar, Wikimedia commons
Women preparing roti for langar, Wikimedia commons

Bhai Desa Singh in his Rehitnama says, “A Sikh who is ‘well to do’ must look to the needs of his poor neighbours. Whenever he meets a traveler or a pilgrim from a foreign country, he must serve him devotedly”. It is believed that when you are having Guru ka langar, you experience Chadti kalan (the feeling of being lifted up) and Sarbhat da bhala (the loving intent of desiring the best for all people). Before serving the food, a prayer (Ardas) is recited and a sacred knife (Kirpan) is passed through for blessings.

The food prepared in the Guru ka langar is mostly vegetarian (except nihangs sometimes serve meat referred as Mahaprashad on Hola Mohalla). The reason of serving vegetarian food might be to welcome people from every religion as Hindus don’t eat beef and Muslims didn’t eat non-halal meat therefore opening langar to both the main religious groups of India. As the congregations are mostly of Indian origin therefore the food served is based on Indian cuisine. This tradition of offering food to everyone and the practice of Seva (selfless service to others) is highly valued in Sikhism. The Seva of serving Guru ka langar has become associated with the identity of Sikhs and is popular in every part of the Globe wherever there is Gurdwara and major Sikh diaspora. At the 2004 World Parliament of Religions conference in Barcelona, Spain, Sikhs made a huge impression by serving Guru ka Langar to all the participants. It was a reflective exhibition of the assets of diversity, humility and loving service to all.

People are supposed to take off their shoes and cover their heads while sharing langar. Everyone is welcome to Gurdwaras eradicating the distinction between the rich and the poor and also curbing egoism as everyone sits together and eats the same food.

Pashchiema is an intern at NewsGram and a student of journalism and mass communication in New Delhi. Twitter: @pashchiema5

2 responses to “The free Kitchen open to people of every religion: Guru ka langar”

  1. something like this should be done in temples too! If you notice, there are no beggars outside gurudwaras but temples, this can be one reason

  2. It really feels great to see people from different religion, race, region, sitting together and enjoying food in Gurudwaras. And, the way they prepare food in these Mega Kitchens is really fascinating. I captured such a video of Gurudwara Nada Sahib. See in a short video how they prepared Langar on the Eve of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Birthday.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMIeUrJlaMo

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