Taiping Sabha: A century of devotion

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| The Star | Taiping, Malaysia | 19 Oct 2016 Asia Samachar |
ON THE COVER: The Star’s Metro Perak cover page, 19 Oct 2016 - PHOTO / ASIA SAMACHAR
ON THE COVER: The Star’s Metro Perak cover page, 19 Oct 2016 – PHOTO / ASIA SAMACHAR

By Manjit Kaur

A WEEK-LONG celebration is planned in conjunction with the Sri Guru Singh Sabha (SGSS) 100th anniversary in Taiping.

SGSS is the committee that manages the Gurdwara Sahib Taiping.

Its chairman Balraaj Singh said the highlight of the celebration would be a grand procession on the evening of Nov 12, which will be making its rounds at several locations within the city.

He said the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Sikh Holy Book) would be transported in a beautiful carriage.

In another carriage, a group of people would be performing the Nagar Kirtan (singing of religious hymns).

SEE ALSO: Minister Nazri launches Taiping Sikhs’ 100 year celebration

SEE ALSO: Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional? The Root Causes

Balraaj added that decorated bullock carts as well as the Sikh bagpipe Sri Dashmesh and SMK King Edward VII bands are expected to take part in the celebration.

He said the carriage would also be accompanied by a group of bikers.

“The celebration is planned from Nov 7 to 13 and during that period, several events including an exhibition on the history of the Gurdwara Sahib Taiping as well as the SGSS will be held.

“Besides that, a three-day Akhand Path (continuous recital of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji), daily singing of religious hymns and a fellowship high-tea programme will take place,” he said after Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz launched the programme on Sunday.

The logo for the centenary celebration of the setting up of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Taiping
The logo for the centenary celebration of the setting up of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Taiping

During his speech, Mohamed Nazri promised to allocate funds for the repainting of the gurdwara building.

He said the different ethnic groups had come to the country with various skills and for the Sikh community, their forefathers were mainly in the police and armed forces.

“I respect the community and hold them in high regard, as they were in Malaysia to defend the country from enemies.

“Until today, we can see the Sikh community in the police and armed forces, with a good example being that of Kuala Lumpur police chief Comm Datuk Amar Singh,” he added.

Mohamed Nazri said as a minister, it was his duty to ensure all cultures – including the Sikh community’s – are preserved and promoted.

He said the culture of the Sikh community is part of Malaysian culture and therefore, he made sure that the auspicious day for the Sikhs, Vasakhi, is celebrated on a grand scale every year in April.

“If we do not promote the culture of the Sikhs, people will not know about the community nor Vasakhi.

“Therefore, the celebration to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of SGSS is definitely something big for me,” he added.

A group of Sikhs in Taiping had established the SGSS on Sept 5, 1916 and the committee’s first task was to set up a gurdwara to serve to the religious needs of the Sikh community in the area.

The management committee requested for land from the government for the building and on Jan 18, 1918, a piece of land at the Upper Station Road (currently known as Jalan Stesen Hulu) was designated for the Sikhs to construct a gurdwara. The foundation stone was laid on Nov 26, 1920.

The British Resident of Perak, Sir William George Maxwell, played an important role in obtaining donations for the gurdwara building.

The newly completed building was declared open in 1921 and on Jan 1, 1928, the Khalsa School Taiping (Sikh religious school) was established there.

The gurdwara building of the SGSS was used by the Sikh congregation for nearly 50 years before being demolished in 1970 to make way for a new double-storey building.

The newly completed gurdwara sahib was then officially declared open on April 14, 1971, on the auspicious Vasakhi Day.

However, before the establishment of the Gurdwara Sahib Taiping, the Malay States Guides (MSG, a military regiment) established in 1896 in Larut, Taiping, which consisted mainly of Sikhs, had a gurdwara within their premises.

As it was a military camp, it was difficult for civilian Sikhs to participate in religious activities there because of the tight security.

Nevertheless, with the disbandment of the MSG at the end of 1919, the gurdwara sahib was closed in 1920.

The article appeared in The Star’s Metro Perak section on in article entitled ‘Sikh organisation turns 100’ on 19 Oct 2016. See here.

 

[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

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