Sikhism in Thailand
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The first Indian to arrive in Thailand was Kirpa Ram Madan in the 1880s. He was granted an audience with King Rama V of Thailand. The records are available in the Gurudwara Singh Sabha in Bangkok. He brought his relatives whose surnames were Madan, Narula and Chawla. They were the first Indian diaspora in Thailand.
By the year 1911, many Sikh families had settled in Thailand. Bangkok was indeed the centre of migrant Sikhs. During that time there was no Gurdwara, so religious prayers were held in the homes of the Sikhs in rotation on every Sunday and all the Gurpurab days.
The population of the Sikh community was on the rise, therefore in the year 1912, the Sikhs decided to establish a Gurdwara. A wooden house was rented in the vicinity of Baan Moh, a well known business area.
In the year 1913 (or the year 2456 according to the Buddhist calendar), with the increasing rise of the Sikh community in Bangkok, a new larger wooden house was leased for a long term at the corner of Phahurat and Chakraphet road. After considerable renovation and decoration, the Guru Granth Sahib was installed and religious prayers were conducted on a daily basis.
As time passed, in the year 1979, the decision was made to renovate the Gurdwara and make it bigger to accommodate the increasing number of Sikhs. Together the committee of Siri Guru Singh Sabha and the other Thai-Sikhs asked for the blessing and permission from the Guru Granth Sahib to construct a new Gurdwara at the same location. The foundation stone was laid down by the Panj Piare, the Five Beloved Ones. The new Gurdwara was completed after two years in the year 1981.
The first Sikh person to travel to Chiang Mai was Mr. Ishar Singh, who traveled from India through Burma into Thailand in the year 1905 (or the year 2448 according to the Buddhist Calendar). Shortly after that about four more families came to Thailand. They were Mr. Rattan Sing, Mr. Gian Singh, Mr. Wariaam Singh and Mr. Amanda Singh. In the year 1907, this group of Sikhs decided to set up a Gurdwara at 134 Charoenrat Road, Chiang Mai, which stands till date at the location and now occupies a space of about 240 square meters.
In the year 1975 there were only around 3 - 4 Sikh families in Pattaya. But after Pattaya was made a tourist spot, many Sikhs migrated from other provinces such as Ubol Ratchthani, Udon Ratchthani, Nakorn Ratchsima (Korat) and Sattahip.
In 1932, Sikhs started moving to Khon Kaen to start some kind of business and earn a living. Initially the Sikhs in Khon Kaen did not build any Gurdwara for performing any sort of religious ceremonies or prayers. Instead Sikh people's homes were used in rotation to perform the religious prayers. However, the religious ceremonies, prayers were performed only on Sundays; the first day of the month and on other religious dates. Later, in the year 1972, as the number of Sikhs increased, a Gurdwara was then constructed. It is a two storey building, which is located at 157-9 Ruamchit Road, Khon Kaen.
The Gurdwara in Lampang was initially located at 113-115 Sai Klang Road, Lampang and was one of the old Gurdwaras in Thailand. In 1933, a Sikh named, Wariaam Singh, donated a piece of land and started construction of the Gurdwara. Later, as the number of Sikhs increased a new and bigger Gurdwara was constructed at 106/1-3 Thip Chaang Road, Lampang. On September 24, 1992 the foundation stone of the new Gurdwara was laid, gathering a large number of Sikh people from nearby provinces and Bangkok to witness the event.
In 1947, Sikhs started moving to Korat to start some kind of business and earn a living. Initially the Sikhs in Korat did not build any Gurdwara for performing any sort of religious ceremonies or prayers. Instead Sikh people's homes were used in rotation to perform the religious prayers. However, the religious ceremonies, prayers were performed only on Sundays; the first day of the month and on other religious dates. Later as the number of Sikhs increased, a Gurdwara was then constructed. On December 23, 1984, there was a parade held by the Sikh Community through the town of Korat, to celebrate the opening ceremony of this Gurdwara.
The first Gurdwara in Phuket was constructed by the Sikhs who had come to Phuket to do Tin Mining and Railway Engineering under the supervision of the British in the year 1939. These groups of Sikhs were also involved in the Indian National Army (INA) during the World War II. Later there were many Sikh businessmen started migrating to Phuket to start a business in the field of tailoring and hotel. More Sikhs moved to Phuket, when the province was made into one of the main tourist spots of Thailand. This led to a necessity in expanding and renovating the Gurdwara to be able to accommodate the increasing number of Sikhs in Phuket. The Gurdwara Committee of Phuket along with many other Sikhs together helped in constructing a new Gurdwara. The opening ceremony was held on January 22, 2001. The Chief Minister for this occasion was Privy Council Member, Bichit Kulavnich.
Gurudwaras in Thailand
In Thailand, Sikhs have constructed several Gurdwaras throughout the country. Currently there are Gurdwaras located in the following provinces:
- Bangkok, Phra Nakhon
- Chiang Mai, Mueang district
- Chiang Rai, Mueang district
- Chonburi, Pattaya
- Khon Kaen, Mueang district
- Lampang, Mueang district
- Nakhon Phanom, Mueang district
- Nakhon Ratchasima, Mueang district
- Nakhon Sawan, Mueang district
- Pattani, Mueang district
- Phuket, Mueang district
- Samut Prakan, Mueang district
- Songkhla, Hat Yai district
- Trang, Mueang district
- Ubon Ratchathani, Mueang district
- Udon Thani, Mueang district
- Yala, Mueang district