Saturday, January 12, 2008

First Gurdwara Sahib in Poland Planned

Eastern Europe's first gurdwara :

A gurdwara, said to be the first in Eastern Europe, will come up in Warsaw, Polish capital as the authorities here have finally given their green signal.

The proposed gurdwara has been registered as a religious institution. Respecting the religious identity of the Sikh community here, the authorities have also allowed them to wear turbans and keep a kirpan.

"This is a glorious day for the Indian community in Poland," Singh Sabha chief administrative officer J.J. Singh said.

"Unlike France, where the Sikh community is facing many difficulties in maintaining its identity, the Polish authorities have given us what we had asked for. The rights of a minority community are being respected, which is most gratifying," Singh told IANS.

"Now our job is to collect funds not only in Poland but from other European countries to construct a beautiful gurdwara. Incidentally, it will be the first gurdwara in Eastern Europe," he added.

For the past three years, the Singh Sabha community organisation has been using a rented house in the Warsaw suburb of Rashyn to perform religious ceremonies. It has been bringing religious teachers and singers from the Amritsar-headquartered Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), a mini parliament of the community in India, for religious activities.

In Poland, apart from a small number of Sikhs, there are 1,200 Sindhis who too have faith in the teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, and the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scriptures.

Janusz Krzyzowski, president of the India-Polish Cultural Committee, said: "This was a long cherished demand which has been accepted very gracefully by a largely Catholic country. In the era of globalisation people everywhere should have the right to practise their religion."