Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick
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|Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick|
|Location||128-130 High Street, Smethwick, West Midlands, United Kingdom|
|Architectural style||Sikh architecture|
Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick (ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਾ ਸਮੈਦਿਕ) is a Sikh temple in Smethwick, near Birmingham, UK. It is the largest Gurdwara in Europe. Spanning a total area of about 70,000 square metres, the building is three storeys high. The Gurdwara Sahib has one of the largest congregations in the UK. Building work commenced in the late 1990s and ever since the Gurdwara has been expanding in order to accommodate for Smethwick's growing Sikh community. The Express & Star gave a news report in 2001 titled 'Ever Expanding Temple'. The Gurdwara has cost millions of pounds to build. Funding came by way of donations from members of the local and national Sikh community.
The Sikh Community from all over the Midlands first began holding religious services in a school in Brasshouse Lane, Smethwick, in 1958. This led to larger congregations of Sikh worshippers and the need arose to acquire more suitable premises for the Gurdwara. The Congregational Chapel building at 130 High Street, Smethwick, was purchased and the Gurdwara opening took place on 31 July 1961. From its earliest days in the town, the Gurdwara has played an active role in fostering international friendship (Warley News, 11 November 1965). The present Gurdwara premises are at the old church site but have been totally rebuilt and extended. Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatler (2006, p. 197) suggested that local issues were taken up and used in Len Webster's novel The Turban-Wallah: a Tale of Little India (OUP, 1984).
It is also the first Gurdwara to have organised Shaheedi Tournaments (games held in the memory of current and past martyrs of the Sikh religion) in the United Kingdom and Europe. The Tournaments have been held regularly in the Birmingham area during the last week of July every year since 1963 (apart from 1984). In the past all tournaments were held under the banner of 'Shaheed Udham Singh Tournament' but now the Tournaments are held also in the names of the current Sikh Shaheeds, namely Shaheed S. Satwant Singh Ji, Shaheed S. Beant Singh Ji, Shaheed S. Kehar Singh Ji and Shaheed S. Hardev Singh Ji Bapoo. In 2000 the Shaheedi Tournaments were held at the West Bromwich Albion Football Ground.
In 2012, a £5million extension was completed making the Gurdwara Sahib much larger and more modern than before. The new building features the following: larger langar hall with a modern kitchen, lecture theatre, offices, classrooms, gym, function room and much more. Further extensive refurbishments were carried out in 2016, when the local press said that the Gurdwara attracted a weekly congregation of more than 10,000 people.
The programmes begin daily when Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji arrives from the Sachkhand Sahib into the lower main hall in the early hours of the morning. Prayers (Nitnem) commences, then Sri Asa Ji Di Waar Kirtan is sung by the Sikh musicians (Ragi's). Programmes run continuously everyday till dusk when Rehraas Sahib starts which then begins the evening services at the Gurdwara Sahib. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is taken back to the Sachkhand Sahib at the end of services in the evening. Throughout the day Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji presides over the Sikh congregations.
Thousands of Sikhs and non-Sikhs attend the Gurdwara Sahib to worship and visit the beautiful Gurdwara complex. Guru Ka Langar (free community kitchen) is served all day long every day throughout the year.
The Gurdwara Management Committee (Punjabi: ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਾ ਪ੍ਰਬੰਧਕ ਕਮੇਟੀ) is ultimately responsible for managing and the administration of Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick. It is also responsible for the upkeep of the Gurdwara estate.
The Committee is governed by its President. The Committee manages the security, financial, facility maintenance and religious aspects of the Gurdwara.
Jatinder Singh is the youngest person to be appointed as the president of the Gurdwara in May 2016, he is the current chief of the Committee.
The Management Committee consists of 21 members selected every two years by the congregation. The following persons are the current executive officers of the Gurdwara:
President - Jatinder Singh
General Secretary - Humraj Singh Shergill
Treasurer - Tersem Singh Shoker
Stage Secretary - Amandeep Singh
Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick is well connected to its congregation via Facebook www.facebook.com/GNGsmethwick and on Twitter www.twitter.com/GNGSmethwick
Soon after Jatinder Singh was selected president of the Gurdwara by the congregation, youth activities have excelled at this Gurdwara. New courses and classes include: Thai Boxing, Sikh Martial Art - Gatka, Wrestling, Turban Tying, Youth forums, Basics of Sikhism courses, Sikhi Zone and they have also introduced Katha (Gurbani discourse) in English.
Due to its large size and flow of congregation this Gurdwara has been built in stages. The first stage of building in 1985 being the halls 1, 2 & 3 of which part has been demolished to make way for the latest stage. In 1993 halls 4, 5 & 6 were built which consisted of 2 Darbars Sahibs and the Langar hall. The main building ground floor and first floor Darbar Sahib's were built in 1999. Recently a new building consisting of a new larger langar hall, modern kitchen facilities, function hall, class rooms, lecture theatre and gym.
The Gurdwara has 8 halls, used for Sri Akhand Path Sahib's, and other activities such as weddings, sports, and education. There are also offices and meeting rooms.
The Gurdwara has the largest library of all Gurdwaras in UK and Europe. It is named the Shaheed Gen. Subegh Singh Library and is located at 128 High Street, Smethwick entry to this is just off the High Street.
- 'Transformation of town temple gets underway,' Sandwell Chronicle, November 10, 2016, p.14
- Singh, Gurharpal and Darshan Singh Tatla. Sikhs in Britain. London, New York: Zed Books, 2006. ISBN 1-84277-717-3
- Webster, Len. The Turban-Wallah: a tale of Little India. Oxford: OUP, 1984. ISBN 0-19-271505-4
- "People to People Week - the Sikhs," Warley News, 11 November 1965
- Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick website
- Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick Facebook page
- Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick Twitter page
-  Greenslade, M.W. (Ed.), A History of the County of Stafford, Vol.17, p. 134