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Khalsa Diwan Society Gurdwara In Vancouver Re-Opens After Fire Damage

By Balwant Sanghera

The weekend of November 16 to18 was very special for North America’s oldest and largest Sikh Society. Vancouver based Khalsa Diwan Society (KDS) located at 8000 Ross Street was overflowing with devotees from all across the Metro Vancouver area throughout the weekend. It was a great shock for the Sangat when on August 26, 2016 the Gurdwara was badly damaged by fire. After more than two years of hard work, management committee finally managed to give the new building an impressive new look with the completion of its fire damage restoration, renovation and building extension. The Executive Committee under PresidentMalkit Singh Dhami’s leadership was very pleased to welcome the Sangat to the new spacious Gurdwara building on the weekend.

The grand opening took place on Sunday, November 18 with Bhog Shri Akhand Paath Sahib at 9:30 AM followed by Kirtan and langar in the expanded and spacious Langar Hall.The Gurdwara premises were overflowing with devotees, visitors, politicians and officials ranging from local to provincial and federal levels. There were smiles all around. Everyone admired the hard work done by so many people in making the new Gurdwara building such an amazing and lovely place of worship. The management committee of KDS with the help of so many volunteers, donors and well-wishers has done an excellent job in bringing this entire project to a very successful conclusion. They have met this unique challenge head on.

Along with various other activities, KDS held a very informative and impressive seminar on Guru Naka Dev ji’s life and message on the evening of Saturday, November17. Titled: “Meet Guru Nanak”, the seminar brought to-gether some very well- respected Sikh scholars to-gether. Each one of the speakers covered Guru ji’s universal message from a different perspective. The devotees in the overflowing Diwan Hall thoroughly enjoyed listening to each of the learned resource people. It was a very fitting tribute to the founder of Sikhism.

KhalsaDiwanSociety formed on July 22, 1902 and formally established in 1906 has alwaysbeen in the forefront in serving our community. For a number of years, KDS was the only organization fighting for the rights of the Indo-Canadian community. It established the first Sikh Gurdwara in Canada (most likely in North America) at 1866 West Second Avenue in Vancouver on January 19, 1908. It has played a major role in the social and economic development of the South Asian community in Canada. KDS has been acting as a strong advocate for our community on every major issue affecting the community. Whether supporting the Ghadar movement, helping the victims of Komagata Maru, fighting against racism or getting back the right to vote, KDS has always been there in the front row.

During the past 120 or so years of our community’s history in Canada, it has gone through various ups and downs. It is due the selfless sacrifices of our ancestors and organizations like KDS that our community has become one of the most visible, prosperous, generous, active and influential communities in Canada. Members of our community are nowoccupying prominent positions in politics, business, sports, journalism, technology, education and many other areas.  The sacrifices made by our pioneers are bearing fruit now. Our pioneer society-KDS- deserves a lot of credit for the progress our community has made over the years.  Certainly, the demographics and dynamics relating to our community have changed considerably over the years. However, most of the issues are the same. Consequently, the relevance and role of societies like KDS is still crucial in representing our interests. In this context, it was great to see the commitment and enthusiasm of so many dedicated people carry on the noble task begun by our ancestors more than hundred years ago.

BalwantSanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist.

 

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