A weekend worship service to mark the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, founder of the Sikh religion, will also be a noteworthy first for the Sikh Society of Thompson.
The Nov. 17 worship service will be the first Sunday service for Thompson Sikhs in their new permanent home, the former Apostolic Church at 111 Goldeye Cres.
“We’ve taken over the Apostolic Church,” since about a month ago, said Raj Thethy of the Sikh Society of Thompson, thanking the organization that used to occupy the building for giving Sikhs the chance to make it their place of worship. “We’ve established a permanent home.”
The Sikh Society of Thompson is still in the process of collecting the money it needs in order to buy the building and property outright.
Sikhs have lived in Thompson since the 1970s, says Kal Singh of the Sikh Society, but never had a dedicated place to worship. At first, people would host worship services in their homes. Later services were held in the Wildlife Association Building and then St. Lawrence Hall. Now that Sikhs have a permanent location, services can be held weekly instead of just once a month.
The actual anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birth was on Nov. 12 but the Sikh Society of Thompson’s big celebration is being held on Sunday so that more Thompsonites can come out and join them.
“We’d like to invite the community to come celebrate with us and see our new temple,” said Thethy. Sunday’s services will begin with prayers at 11, followed by hymns at noon and then a community luncheon, which is free to attend, beginning at 1 pm.
The temple will be the furthest north in Manitoba and possibly the most northerly in the world and will also serve Sikhs in outlying communities like Gillam and Lynn Lake.
“Lots of local people have donated,” says Kal Singh, as well as people in Winnipeg and Vancouver and elsewhere in B.C.
“Whoever helped, we appreciate it,” says the Sikh Society of Thompsons’s Inderjeet Singh.
A Sikh clergy member from Winnipeg will be coming up for the Nov. 17 celebration and there are plans to eventually hire a permanent clergy member or the Thompson temple, as well as to provide cultural classes and a place for Sikh elders to socialize.
“It’s a very peaceful place,” says Inderjeet Singh. “Everybody likes it and appreciates it.”
There are about 100 Sikh families in Thompson, about one-third of the city’s total population of people of Indian descent.