| Shah Alam, Malaysia | 3 Dec 2015 | Asia Samachar |
The soon-to-be opened gurdwara in Shah Alam, the state capital of Selangor, is envisaged to be a ‘gurdwara of learning’ with the hope of attracting Sikh scholars to come and share their knowledge.
The team at work to build the new gurdwara has also placed three things at the heart of the design: Modern technology, mindful design and a special name.
“The building committee has striven to ensure that the gurdwara will provide a modern, well-equipped and a conducive environment that will promote learning; and this has resulted in several special features that we take pride in highlighting,” Patminderjit Singh, the president of the gurdwara and building committees, tells Asia Samachar in an email reply.
Gurdwara Sahib Guru Nanak Shah Alam (GSGNSA) will officially open on 11 Dec 2015.
With that, Patminderjit said the Sikh sangat in the area will now have a more accessible and conducive premise to come together in prayer and for celebrations.
“But beyond this, we hope to position GSGNSA as a gurdwara of learning because being a Sikh is all about constantly learning and growing spiritually. We want it to be a centre of learning for the community – whatever their age,” he said.
Here is the full written interview.
1. What are the key areas covered by the gurdwara?
Gurdwara Sahib Guru Nanak Shah Alam (GSGNSA) in Section 18, Shah Alam, will serve a growing Sikh community with more new townships opening up in surrounding areas of Shah Alam. This includes Sikhs from Taman Sri Muda, Bukit Rimau, Kota Kemuning, Bukit Kemuning, Bukit Jelutong, Denai Alam Ara Damansara and other nearby areas in Petaling Jaya, Kelana Jaya, Subang Jaya, Setia Alam and Klang.
2. How many Sikh Families are there in these areas?
Within Shah Alam itself there are about 350 to 400 Sikh families. The current old gurdwara has catered to these numbers. We project the new gurdwara will serve more as its bigger premises will make it conducive for Sikhs in adjoining areas of Shah Alam to also make use of the gurdwara premises.
3. How much has it cost to build this gurdwara?
Nine years ago, in 2006, when the project was planned as a two-storey building, the cost was estimated at RM3 million. Subsequently, after much effort, approval was obtained for a 3-storey building and the estimated cost rose to about RM4.5 million. This includes the cost of landscaping, internal finishing and installations.
4. When did construction start?
As part of Vasakhi celebrations on 14 April 2011, the Sangat led by Panj Pyares and all members of the GSSA above 70 years, including the gurdwara and building committee members, laid the foundation stone of the new gurdwara sahib. The first phase (piling works) of the new GSSA project then commenced on 13 Nov 2011, during Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birthday celebrations.
5. How much has the team managed to raise?
To date, the team has raised approximately RM3.4 million. We have a shortfall of about RM1 million. We continue to appeal for donations via the website.
6. Is the gurdwara fully completed? If not, what is yet to be done?
At this point the construction work is complete. However, the landscaping of the grounds, internal finishing (carpets, curtains, etc), fitting out of furniture and installation of sound system and other equipment are ongoing and targeted for completion by 11 Dec 2015 when the gurdwara sahib will be officially opened to the Sangat. A nagar kirtan followed by a 3-day akhand paath will be held from 11-13 Dec to celebrate the opening of Gurdwara Sahib Guru Nanak Shah Alam.
7. What are the main features that make up the Gurdwara?
Much thought and planning has been dedicated in ensuring this gurdwara offers full-fledged facilities for long term sustainability and comfort.
A well-equipped, modern-designed main darbar and mini darbar will reign on the uppermost (second) floor.
The first floor will house the resident Granthi’s living quarters, (comprising a living room, bedroom, pantry, bathroom and an additional room for children, if any), secretariat, a small conference room, four classrooms (for Punjabi and kirtan classes or viakhia), en-suite room for guests, toilets (for males/females/physically disadvantaged) and a special powder room for the ladies.
The langar hall, cooking areas and more toilets are located on the ground floor. Two lifts are provided for the benefit of senior citizen and the physically challenged.
We have also purchased an Australian specs container which has four single rooms with built in shower and toilet facilities and a small working room.
8. What is special about this gurdwara?
Three things: Modern technology. Mindful design. A special name.
The building committee has striven to ensure that the gurdwara will provide a modern, well-equipped and a conducive environment that will promote learning; and this has resulted in several special features that we take pride in highlighting.
a) WIFI enabled – Free WIFI services will be offered within the gurdwara for the benefit of the sangat and to facilitate transmission of kirtan, katha and viakhia sessions via live streaming services. The darbar and classroom will be fitted with the necessary audio and visual installations required to transmit live via online channels.
b) Digital sound system – Gurbani is the voice of our Guru. To ensure the highest sound clarity during prayers and kirtan programmes, the committee has invested in the latest digital sound technology. This will comprise two linear loudspeakers and ceiling woofers sheathed in wooden casings with rockwool to prevent vibrations. GSGNSA will be the first gurdwara in Malaysia to offer this sound technology.
c) Double-bricked walls – As the gurdwara is in close proximity to a railway line, double bricked walls have been utilised for better sound insulation. The walls are also swathed with rock wool within to reduce outside sound interference as well as absorb echos from kirtan performances. This helps to enhance sound quality and listening pleasure.
a) Modern beauty – A gently curving oval palki circumbulated by an onyx granite walkway is the highlight of the Darbar Sahib. The palki is designed to look as if the Guru is embracing all who come within His sanctuary. We also plan to include an illuminated backdrop to create a strong focal point for the sangat.
b) Extra Mini Darbar – To accommodate more programmes, an additional Darbar Sahib is provided on the second floor. This ensures that any ongoing akhand paath will not be disrupted and other programmes can take place simultaneously.
c) Comfortable living quarters – We are mindful that the needs of the resident Granthi and his/her family should be well-provided for. The living quarters are self-contained and include a living area, pantry, bathrooms and two bedrooms to cater for children or guests. Also, if needed, the additional accommodation provided in the container could also be used by visitors and prayer participants.
d) Extendable classrooms – The gurdwara’s four classrooms are designed with folded partitions so that all four classrooms can open up to offer a bigger hall that can accommodate up to 60 people at a time (i.e: for popular viakhia sessions or annual general meetings). Every classroom is also fully equipped with mike, camera, projector and internet capabilities for live transmission and better presentation capabilities.
e) Wheelchair-friendly features – To cater for senior citizens and the physically disadvantaged, specially fitted out toilets, accessible wheelchair ramps and two lifts are provided for in the design of the building
f) Powder room – It has come to our attention then during weddings many gurdwaras are unable to accommodate to the needs of our ladies and thus we have ensured a special powder room is included to provide a dry and comfortable area for dressing up and touching up.
A Special Name
– At an EGM last year in September 2014, the sangat supported the Building Committee move to rename Gurdwara Sahib Shah Alam as Gurdwara Sahib Guru Nanak Shah Alam (GSGNSA) to commemorate the 27-year journey in search of an official gurdwara premise – a journey towards the end of which many successful milestones fell during the birthday celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. These included obtaining the approved drawing plans and development order (DO) from the state authorities and the commencement of the first phase of the building project. Most gurdwaras in Malaysia are named purely by their location, thus this name is regarded as a special feature to us.
9. When did activities begin in the earlier gurdwara?
Since 1993, the Shah Alam sangat has been holding all its prayers out of a Spartan corner low-cost house in Section 25, Taman Sri Muda (after moving from two previous rented premises) under severe constraints. The premise was too small to conduct large functions with a small portion of a poorly maintained soccer field in front of the gurdwara serving as the langar hall at bigger gatherings.
The location within a residential area was not conducive leading to complaints from the neighbourhood and local authorities – from parking woes and violations, unhappy neighbours, to noise from the speakers and from activities that take place within too confined a space.
10. What does the team hope to achieve with opening of the new gurdwara?
With the opening of Gurdwara Sahib Guru Nanak Shah Alam, the Sikh sangat in our parts now have a more accessible and conducive premise to come together in prayer and for celebrations. That has been the vision we set out to achieve.
But beyond this, we hope to position GSGNSA as a gurdwara of learning because being a Sikh is all about constantly learning and growing spiritually. We want it to be a centre of learning for the community – whatever their age. From Punjabi classes for the young, to kirtan classes for the youth and viakhia sessions for all those who seek to delve deeper into the meanings of Gurbani.
We want it to be a place that attracts Sikh scholars to come and share their knowledge – either via being present in person or via online transmission. Hence the investment in resources and planning that has gone into ensuring the gurdwara comes equipped with the latest that technology can offer.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
JAGIR: Without guidance, all gurdwaras would be on their own (Asia Samachar, 20 Nov 2015)
MGC passionately protects religious rights of Sikhs, others in Malaysia (Asia Samachar, 19 Nov 2015)
Potential tussle for MGC presidency, Jagir to serve last term (Asia Samachar, 16 Nov 2015)
New Darbar Sahib at TTDI Jaya, Shah Alam (Asia Samachar, 4 Oct 2015)
Gurdwara design that listens to earth (Asia Samachar, 1 Oct 2015)
Selangor allocates RM120,000 to 9 gurdwaras, SSA (Asia Samachar, 24 Aug 2015)
Engage youth on what matters to them – MGC seminar tells Sikh gurdwaras (Asia Samachar, 23 Aug 2015)
Creating deeper social connections (Asia Samachar, 13 July 2015)
Subang gurdwara building out to tender (Asia Samachar, 25 June 2015)
A sanctuary by the sea (Asia Samachar, 7 June 2015)
New leadership for Muar gurdwara (Asia Samachar, 21 May 2015)
Major changes in Malacca gurdwara leadership (Asia Samachar, 9 Mac 2015)
Rethinking gurdwara design (Asia Samachar, 21 Apr 2015)
Johor Bahru gurdwara requests return of land (Asia Samachar, 20 Apr 2015)