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Armchair Traveller

by reception
posted 15/09/2010

Meet the Sydney Singhs

The Glenwood NSW’s Gurdwara, or Sikh Temple

The similarities between the architecture of traditional Sikh temples and Islamic mosques is because Sikhism flourished alongside the Moghul Empire when Persian architecture prevailed.

Sikh temples around the world remain open 24 hours and feed anybody that shows up at their doorstep. In the kitchen, over gigantic cauldrons, volunteers of all ages and gender toil to prepare a feast for the masses. On any given Sunday in Glenwood, about 500 people show up to informally worship without priests except for the musicians that sing liturgical hymns to the rhythms of tabla and harmonium. Everyone entering the sanctum where the scriptures are placed under a canopy, bows to it and discreetly deposits an offering. Whether it is money or a bag of rice or bottles of milk, they are all contributing to the communal upkeep of their renowned hospitality.

When the inspirational hymns are over, the congregation flows into the assembly hall and sits along carpet runners on the floor. Taxi drivers, doctors, accountants, engineers, small business owners, surgeons, teachers, students, they all sit together and at one level while an army of volunteers dish out rice and dhal from gleaming buckets while trays of freshly made chappattis are carried by young boys.

A Science teacher tells me his students teasingly  call him ‘Osama’ (as in Bin Laden) -because of his turban…He says with a wry smile he has enlightened them and that he doesn’t mind.

Unfortunately, the confusion prevails, so next time you spot a turban -whether it’s your doctor or the man driving you-  introduce yourself and show off how much you know about Sikhism. I did when I once got into a taxi driven by a Sikh. He was amazed and grateful to have met, for once, a passenger who knew who he really was…