ORIGINS OF SRI GURU SINGH SABHA
Sri Guru Singh Sabha was registered as a society on 25 June 1918 by Baba Karam Singh Hothi following displeasure of the Sikhs in placing the control and management of Central Sikh Temple under the Muhammadan and Hindu Endowment Board on 15 June 1917. At that time it was registered as a non-regional and non-caste based Society.
The name “Singh Sabha” was used in line with the Singh Sabha Movement that was gaining momentum in India since its launch in 1873 with the founding of Amritsar Singh Sabha. The revival movement called for a reassessment of Sikh beliefs and practices and urged a return to the earlier teachings of the Gurus.
Sri Guru Singh Sabha was initially located at a rented premises close to the Central Sikh Temple in Queen Street. A little later they rented a two-storey shop house, also in Queen Street, close to Bras Basah Road, almost opposite St Joseph’s Institution.
While its original membership was non-denominational, however, as a result of the increasing migration of Mahja Sikhs in the early 1920s, it was dominated by the Mahja majority and in 1923 it was transformed into a Mahja organisation. The Malwa Sikhs followed suit and registered their own Khalsa Dharmak Sabha shortly thereafter.
OLD GURDWARA BUILDING
Sri Guru Singh Sabha purchased a two-storey bungalow at 90 Wilkie Road in 1931 for $10,875, and after doing all the necessary alterations required to convert it into a Gurdwara, moved into the new premises on 17 August 1932.
In 1957, they purchased the adjoining plot of land for $36,000. Nothing was done with this land for almost 15 years and in 1973, a Building Committee was formed to build the new Gurdwara using this adjoining land plus the langgar hall area of the original gurdwara. The Building Committee comprised Kapur Singh Bhambri (President), Khushal Singh Tharu (Secretary), Chanan Singh Khanowal (Asst Secretary), Doola Singh Chamba (Treasurer) and Tarlok Singh Lauke (Asst Treasurer).
Actual construction for the gurdwara started in 1978 under the auspices of Panj Pyare and was completed in 1981 at a cost of $1 million. The new Gurdwara building was officially declared open by Minister Ong Teng Cheong in 1984.
The old Gurdwara building was retained and used as a “Janj Ghar” during weddings and as classrooms for extra Punjabi classes for a few years. It then lay vacant for many years before it was completely refurbished at a cost of around $1.1 million and reopened in 2014 with the upper floor serving as an additional Darbar Hall and the ground floor rented out for use by a pre-school operator.
Sri Guru Singh Sabha has played an active role and given full support to the promotion of the Punjabi language and the Sikh religion among the Sikhs in Singapore. During the 1950s and 1960s the Sabha made an annual contribution of $600 to the Partinidh Sabha to defray the cost of running the English and Punjabi schools. It allowed its premises to be used for over 25 years from the 1940s to the 1960s to run Punjabi classes for Sikh children. Khalsa Punjabi School (full-time regular Punjabi school) was also run in the Gurdwara’s premises in the 1950s and 1960s to cater for the children of Sikh migrants who were from conservative families who did not want to send their daughters to English schools. Over time, as more children started attending regular schools, this demand reduced and the school was finally closed.
The gurdwara today stands at 92 Wilkie Road, Singapore.
Registration: 25 June 1918
First Rental Premises: Queen Street near Central Sikh Temple
First Own Gurdwara Building: 90 Wilkie Road. Cost: S$10,875 in 1931
Purchase of Additional Land: Cost $36,000 in 1957
New Gurdwara Building: Ground Breaking by Panj Pyare in 1978
Completed: 1981. Cost: $1 million
Official Opening of New Gurdwara Building: Minister Ong Teng Cheong in 1984
Upgrading of Old Gurdwara: Completed in 2014. Cost: $1.1 million
Launching of 100th Year Celebrations: 25 June 2017
100th Year Celebration: 24 June 2018
Facebook: Sri Guru Singh Sabha-Singapore
All set for Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Singapore centennial (Asia Samachar, 20 June 2018)
The Sikhs in Singapore (Asia Samachar, 20 Sept 2016)