Temple open for prayers
PUBLISHED: 16:22 08 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:49 23 August 2010
A STUNNING £12 million Sikh temple has partially opened, seven years after building work first started on the site. The Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, in Khalsa Avenue, Gravesend, opened its doors to the public for the first time last Wednesday. Hundreds o
A STUNNING £12 million Sikh temple has partially opened, seven years after building work first started on the site.
The Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, in Khalsa Avenue, Gravesend, opened its doors to the public for the first time last Wednesday.
Hundreds of Sikhs from across north Kent attended the spectacular opening that was kept a secret until the event took place.
The Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scripture, was escorted to the Gurdwara from the existing temple in Clarence Place, Gravesend, by a procession of five flag bearers followed by five Beloved Ones, or Panj Pyare.
Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee member Jagdev Singh Virdee, 53, of Watling Street, Gravesend, said: "It was a great day. It's the first stage of the opening of the Gurdwara after seven years of building so it is a momentous time for the whole community.
"There were hundreds of people who came along. People were queuing up to come in and pay their respects and the day was enjoyed by everyone.
"A lot of the people were seeing the building for the first time and they all said they were really impressed with it."
The arrival of the Guru Granth Sahib was followed by reading of the Sukhmani Sahib, a prayer of peace and harmony taken from the Guru Granth Sahib and written by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth Sikh Guru.
Two of the smaller worship halls in the building was opened with the second one due for opening next month. One of the dining rooms, Langar hall, has also opened.
The main hall and the entire Gurdwara is due to formally open during the Vaisakhi celebrations in April 2010.
Mr Singh Virdee added: "When it is completed the Gurdwara will be one of the most magnificent temples in the country, in Europe and perhaps even outside of India."
Work started on the building in 2002 and the entire cost is funded by the town's 15,000-strong Sikh community.
Designer Teja Biring took inspiration from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, one of the holiest of places for over 20 million Sikhs worldwide.
When fully open the Gurdwara in Gravesend will be used by north Kent's 12,000 Sikhs and open to all members of the community.
It will be able to house up to 1,200 worshippers at any one time.
The old venue in Clarence Place is a few minutes walk away, but is too small.
Before it was bought in 1968, Sikhs gathered in each other's homes after they began settling in Gravesend at the turn of the 20th century.