Friday, 3 August 2012
Story of a shrine - Seremban Gurudwara Malaysia
Story of a shrine – Seremban Gurudwara Malaysia
I now have a brick and I will make my palace soon. I now have a piece of land and I will make my kingdom soon. This anonymous saying is a tribute to spirits of Sikhs based in Malaysia. Sikh history in Malaysia is traced back to 19th century when they have been bought here by British Army and got stationed in places like Penang, Manting and Seremban. The Sikh regiment’s main purpose was to safeguard business interest of British empire especially tin mines in Malaysia. Because of their onerous duty and generous attitude they earned respect among British officers. As mark of respect towards their faith they donated piece of land near to present railway station to build a Gurdwara. In 1905 they moved Gurdwara to its present location on Jalan Templer which now is erected on area almost half acres. Seremban gurdwara foundation was laid down by a British officer and its management comprise of sikh police officers. They slog day in and out to raise it as shrine and adobe of social activities. After independence there was a resurgent of thick set Sikh comprising 600 police officers residing there.
During 1942 Japanese attacked and occupied Seremban. A Japanese soldier hurt a sikh woman because she refused to bow her head. Then all sikh came forward to negotiate and occupied middle grounds with Japanese. As cumulative effect comprising mixed feelings of fear and respect Japanese army funded ration of Gurdwara. Prasad that Sikhs cooked with rice, corn flour, ragi-flour and palm oil was give a nick name of “karate Prasad”. Till 1945 they maintained a cordial relationship with Japanese army and act upon as bridge to connect them to soldiers of Netaji’s Azad hind fauj.
“In proximity of Gurdwara there is a church and hindu temple. We have people from all walks of life taking darshan of Granth sahib”, explains Sardar Payara Singh, an eighty year old strong built sikh who landed in Malaysia in 1949. He is royal descendant of king Johar Singh wala family of Punjab located near Mogha district. “From 1969 onwards I got actively involved in activities of Gurdwara and was president of committee till 2005. After independence of Malaysia this place was renovated and the then second Prime Minister of Malaysia Abdul Tun Razak laid foundation stone. Today we have more than 500 families associated to this shrine. We build it brick by brick and today this two storey has an air conditioned prayer hall, fully operational and well equipped kitchen and store room, a langar and multipurpose hall, a library and several rooms. We have well furnished rooms where people from all over the globe come and stay to devote their time in well being of community.” Said Pyara Singh. Latest trends like Information technology aren’t neglected. With an estimate investment of $ 40,000 committee set up computer labs and automated various day to day activities of shrine.
Under his and Dr. Parim Singh stewardship there was again major renovation costing nearly $ 600,000 out of which nearly $ 250,000 were donated by locals.
“We give kitchen and hall to people outside our community too hold marriage parties at free of cost. We are among the pioneer gurdwara to initiate and establish an English medium school. We provide educational aids to poor and deserving students. We provide scholarships to students who have vested interest in further studies”. Continues Sardar Pyara Singh, “through this place of worship we have successfully connected our generations to spirits and values of Sikhism. We teach them that being a sikh doesn’t mean only to bear 5 K’s but it is about living a devoted life and embracing values that sikh gurus have advocated for. To profess this idea we regularly hold lectures, kirtans, music classes, sporting activities and invite knowledgeable preachers and saint to convey ideas of spiritual up-liftment.”
Very recently Government of Singapore appointed a sikh as chief of their army. This is an epitome of valor and wisdom a sikh inherits in their blood. To spread hands and beg is not they have in their veins. As a result of this quality they have emerged as powerful business community as well in South East Asia and they have played a pivotal role in raising Malaysian economy. During 1927 when economy went under depression the worshippers went out of the way selling their own belongings like jewelry and even livestock enabling committee to continue their services and services never lost momentum till 1929 when balance left was only $ 130. Majestic and grandeur Seremban gurdwara is symbol of their straightforward equivalence between economic progress and social well being.