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Founded to meet the religious needs of Singapore’s Sikh community living in Katong, Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Satsang Sabha is a communal gathering space that has promoted and reinforced Sikh teachings for the past 50 years.
A Guardian of Sikh Culture
The gurdwara’s history began in the 1950s, when Sikh families from Katong would gather at the houses of the sangat (congregation) to conduct kirtan (devotional singing). The congregation grew and eventually needed a permanent space.
In 1962, Sardar Inder Singh Bajaj purchased a bungalow at Wilkinson Road for this purpose, followed by the adjacent bungalow the year after. A few years later in 1969, a permanent gurdwara was established at the present day Wilkinson Road site.
The gurdwara was built to follow the architectural style of typical gurdwaras found in India. Despite being a modern reinforced concrete building, it also incorporated traditional Sikh architectural elements such as onion-shaped domes and pinnacles, as well as semi-circular arches. These elements were a powerful expression and affirmation of the building’s Sikh identity.
The gurdwara also houses a well-stocked library and Dharam Parchar Centre that cares for the needs of Sikhs living in Singapore and abroad.
Making Connections in a Local and Global Network
Throughout its history, Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Satsang Sabha has explored different areas of promoting Sikh teachings and culture to the local and global Sikh community.
In its early years, the Sabha undertook a significant project of extensively recording and distributing kirtan and katha (religious storytelling) cassette tapes and CDs to Sikhs around the world.
Over the years, the gurdwara has also taken on many projects translating Punjabi and Sikh literary works into English, as well as conducting classes for young children to reinforce Sikh culture and values. It has also developed a dedicated youth wing, which participates actively in sports and other activities.
The gurdwara is reportedly also the first one outside India to offer marble paalki (palanquin) services in the form of daily diwans (religious gatherings) held in the morning and evening. Important dates in the Sikh calendar, such as the birthdays of Sikh Gurus and the Vaisakhi festival, are also celebrated.
These activities have been conducted in efforts to achieve the gurdwara’s vision of propagating Sikhism and its practice amongst Sikhs in Singapore. Today, it continues to be a spiritual home for many Sikhs.
Buildings and sites featured on Roots.SG are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.SG does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of September 2020 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.