Myanmar | Asia Samachar |14 June 2015
“We were in this town called Monywa in Myanmar where they have two gurdwaras within 3km radius. Both the Gurdwaras were build like 100 years back they have around 20 families in this town in Myanmar.”
That’s the short note from Resham Singh to Asia Samachar when sharing some photographs on the gurdwara located some 750km north of Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
Resham was one of the six members of the Malaysian Punjabi Bikerz that made a trip from Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, to Amritsar, Punjab, via Myanmar, in 2014.
The journey ended at Darbar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, in Amritsar, Punjab, on Nov 20, 2014.
Monywa was the only city in Myanmar with a gurdwara that they had passed through in their 18-day journey. [See Punjabi Bikerz super ride to Amritsar].
The Monywa gurdwara would be one of the 48 gurdwaras that still existed (at least in 2011), less than one third of the 131 gurdwaras that existed in a 1931 census.
The article goes on:
“In one or two instances two Gurdwaras located near to each other are being looked after by one granthi. All Gurdwaras in Military establishments and the various Sikh institutions such as Khalsa Schools have been taken over by the Government. In some locales where Gurdwaras are unattended and kept locked, the ‘Sangat’ from nearby areas makes an effort to visit at least once a year when they re-clothe the ‘Nishan Sahib’ thereby establishing the continuing Sikh ownership. It is helpful that many Gurdwaras have some property attached to it thus providing rental income which comes in handy for the upkeep of premises. There is a free dispensary still being run in the rooms attached with Yangon Gurdwara.”
The article, based on Swarn’s travels in 2011, also notes:
“As mentioned earlier, there were three major exoduses: the first in early 1940s when the Japanese occupied Burma during WW II. The second exodus was post-Independence of Burma in 1948 – anti Indian feelings had started simmering even prior to independence. Soon after the military coup of 1962, the Government decided to follow what came to be known as ‘Burmese way to Socialism’ whereby most businesses including retail trade were nationalised. This was a big blow for the Indians which resulted in the third exodus. When one morning the people went to open their shops, they were greeted by Army persons asking them to hand over the keys. They were told that all the goods now belonged to the Government from that moment onwards. They were free to work as Managers of the shops on paltry salary.