The Wellington Gurudwara Sahib marked its presence at the interfaith prayer meeting held at the new chancery building of the Indian High Commission recently. The Gurudwara team, led by Bhai Dalbir Singh, joined other faith groups to bless the new structure.
“Over a weekend more than 1,000 families visit the Wellington Gurudwara Sahib regularly,” according to a spokesman for Satinder Singh, Gurudwara president.
The Wellington Gurudwara Sahib was initially established in Waitangirua, Porirua, in 1997. In view of the rapid growth of the community in the Greater Wellington region, it relocated to Naenae, Lower Hutt, in September 2016.
The new building, originally a New World supermarket, was converted into the present gurudwara .
The gurudwara’s location is expected to meet the needs of the burgeoning Sikh community in the Greater Wellington region whose population includes a substantial number of Sikh students coming from India, Malaysia and Fiji.
The Sikh population in New Zealand is estimated at around 60,000.
The first Sikh arrived in New Zealand in 1890
The Wellington Gurudwara has the distinction of being located in the southernmost part of the globe.
The Wellington Gurudwara is open through the week. A resident “bhaiji” presides over the congregation every Sunday morning, which is followed by the Guru da langar (community meal).
Visitors to any gurudwara are bound by a strict protocol which includes modest dressing, covering the head and sitting without pointing feet towards the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Sikh sacred text.
Satinder Singh notes that all religious festivals related to Sikh gurus and Sikh history are celebrated at the Gurudwara Sahib, while the wider community marks mainly Punjabi festivals and holds other cultural events at the various community halls of the local city councils .
The Wellington Gurudwara Sahib also runs a Punjabi language and Gurmat Sangeet centre on Saturday afternoons .
The Langar, or free kitchen, is the trademark service to society that every gurudwara is known for. During the Covid-19 lockdown, the Wellington Gurudwara Sahib actively participated in distributing food parcels across communities.
It also ran a vaccination clinic on the gurudwara premises.
Recently, the Sikh community consolidated its presence by uniting all the 24 gurudwaras across New Zealand under one apex body, the Sikh Association New Zealand (SANZ).