| Tawau, Malaysia | 20 Aug 2017 | Asia Samachar |
By Sarjit Singh
Getting a right Granthi can make a world of a difference to smaller gurdwaras. This was aptly demonstrated by the new granthi at Gurdwara Sahib Tawau, a small town in the southern tip of Sabah.
The granthi had organised a programme for the birthday of his two old son today (20 Aug 2017) which attracted Sikhs from neigbouring towns of Kunak (some 80km away), and Semporna (100km) and Lahad Datu (150km). This is not something that happens all the time.
“I’m so happy attending this function today. It brings people together, it creates goodwill,” said Lahad Datu gurdwara treasurer Bebah Kaur, popularly known as Aunty Nicky, who attended the programme.
Tawau gurdwara secretary Baljeet Singh Mann said the granthi, whom most people refer to as ‘Giani Ji’, is “young and dynamic and children and youth like his approach. Twelve kids are studying Punjabi at the school here.”
Sabah is a Malaysian state located on the Borneo island. It neighbours another Malaysian state, Sarawak.
Tajinder Pal Singh from Punjab, India, took up the role of granthi at Tawau about a year ago.
A granthi literally means a reader of the Sikh scripture of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. However, in many places outside Punjab, India, a granthi acts more like a full time gurdwara caretaker. In Malaysia, a granthi is usually a stay-in hired staff who manages the overall affairs of the gurdwara. However, larger gurdwaras are able to employ additional staff taking on roles like managers and cleaners.
“It was also good that as the secretary Cikgu Baljeet Singh Mann suggested that we should have exchange functions like this at Gurdwara Sahib Lahad Datu Gurdwara too whereby the Sangat from Tawau, Semporna and Kunak will join,” said Bebah.
Hence, the programme clearly underlines the importance for gurdwaras in Malaysia, and elsewhere, to engage young and dynamic granthis to get the Sikh youth participating in gurdwara programmes.
On the whole, Tawau gurdwara committee president Ajaib Singh Maan said the state government has been supportive of the Sikhs.
In December 2016, Asia Samachar reported that Tawau Sikhs had received a RM30,000 state grant to renovate the only gurdwara in the city located more than 500km from Kota Kinabalu. The state of Sabah had also approved a two-year granthi permit for the gurdwara.
Associate Professor Dr. Sarjit Singh Gill from University Putra Malaysia (UPM) was a former Head of Department of Social and Development Science, Faculty of Human Ecology, UPM. His PhD fieldwork was on Sikhs in Sabah, mainly in Kota Kinabalu. His thesis was entitled ‘Role of Gurdwaras in Constructing Sikh Identity in Malaysia: Comparative Study‘ (2005).
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Sabah state grants RM30,000 to Tawau gurdwara (Asia Samachar, 25 Dec 2016)
(Asia Samachar, 1 Feb 2017)
(Asia Samachar, 1 Feb 2017)