Metro area Sikhs recently celebrated the grand opening of their new house of worship with a special ceremony and community dinner.
About 300 people attend the event May 19 on the faith community's property at 4525 NW 16.
The new 5,000-square-foot house of worship — called a gurdwara — is adjacent to the metro Sikh's former house of worship, which had been a Christian church.
Leaders said the new building was needed to keep up with the faith community's growth. The former gurdwara was 2,300 square feet.
The May 19 event included a special video featuring vintage pictures and interviews with longtime members of the faith community.
Also, several congregation members were each presented with a siropa, a type of scarf, in recognition of their help with the building project. The siropas are traditionally given to honor people in the Sikh community.
Sarbjit “Sabi” Singh, one of the Sikh congregation's members, said the community started in 1983 with 10 families, representing about 35 people. He said the congregation has now grown to between 150 and 200 people. He said cost of the new building is about $500,000. Also, he said most traditional gurdwaras have domes but the congregation's leaders decided against this plan for various reasons.
After the special service, the congregation and their guests dined together outdoors under a large tent, which added a festive atmosphere to the day.
The house of worship is near the corner of NW 16 and Meridian, sandwiched between a storage facility and a thrift store and across the street from the Meridian Plaza shopping center. Singh, who is president of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma, said the congregation plans to use the former house of worship on the property as a community outreach facility like a clinic or community center.
During the service, Singh told those gathered that he was especially pleased that members of other faiths — Christianity, Judaism, Hindu and Baha'i — were in attendance to help the Sikhism community celebrate.
Sikhism is the fifth-largest world religion, and was founded in 1469 by Guru Nanak. It emerged from the Punjab region of India. With more than 25 million followers worldwide, it is one of the youngest major world religions.
Sikhism is a monotheistic faith and teaches that all human beings are considered equal in the eyes of God. This concept of equality spreads across gender, race, religion, ethnicity, etc.
In America, the majority of people seen wearing turbans will be Sikh. They wear the turbans to cover their uncut hair, which is a symbol of their faith. Wearing a turban declares sovereignty, dedication, self-respect, and courage. Sikhs wear the turban out of love, as a mark of commitment to the faith, and so they can be easily identified as a Sikh.
About 700,000 Sikhs live in the United States today.