The weekend of January 19-20 was an important milestone in the landscape of the Australian Sikh community with the inauguration of the new Sikh temple, also called as Gurdwara or Gurughar, meaning the house of Guru (teacher). The temple, at 33 Officer Road, is set on a beautiful 20-acre tree-filled property overlooking a creek.
The three-day long event, also celebrated the birthday of 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, and witnessed more than 600 people, including about 60 from other Australian communities congregating at the temple.
Dignitaries who graced the event included Federal MP Jason Wood; newly elected State MP Jordan Crugnale; Mayor Graeme Moore; Councillor Casey Council Damien Rosario; Rakesh Malhotra, Consul General, Indian Consulate. Staff from Pauline Richards, MP Cranbourne also attended. Other Cardinia Shire Councillors extended their wishes for the day. ALP candidates Simon Curtis and Michael Galea also attended the occasion.
Visitors from many local organisations came to celebrate the opening of the temple, which saw some opposition early on in the planning process. These visitors reiterated their commitment to multiculturalism and praised the planning process followed by the Sikh community. Event saw representatives from Cardinia Shire Council; Need for Feed; Cardinia Interfaith Network; Cardinia Gujarati Association; Casey Multifaith Network; Upper Beaconsfield Conservation group; Rotary Club of Pakenham; Pakenham RSL; Lakeside Residents Group; Cardinia Lakes Residents Group; Cardinia Food movement; Cardinia Culturally & Linguistically Diverse advisory group; Sudanese community; Ahmadiyya Muslim Community; and members from various Indian communities.
Religious hymns were sung by volunteers and kids and a translation of the teachings was displayed on the screens. The attendees were enlightened about the community’s journey in setting up of this temple from 2013-2019.
Site tours of the property were hosted by volunteers. Visitors were updated about initiatives such as Australian, Aboriginal and Sikh flags at the entrance, installation of bird nest boxes, plantation of around 300 trees, installation of clothes recycling bins and plans to start organic farming and setting up of a kids toy library, and music and language classes.
Harpreet Singh, spokesman for the community, said the entire Sikh community in the region is thrilled with the presence and support exhibited by members of all communities. He thanked everyone for their advice during the difficult planning phases of the temple and invited them to share their bright collaboration ideas in the path of making this new home community’s asset and pride. The temple has no formal organisational structure and has prepared a vision document for next 5 years, with community integration and engagement as one of the core verticals.
The Sikh Gurdwara welcomes everyone anytime, any day with the mission of connecting everyone to the universal humanistic principles, promoting brotherhood and building community bridges, said Harpreet.
Avtar Singh, another active member of the local Sikh community said he was excited to see everyone keen to tie the Sikh turbans. “We almost ran short of turbans because there was so much demand,” he said.
Harman Singh, who coordinated the free community meal, said, “I was almost in tears to see the love for Indian food and was touched by visitors’ gesture of sitting on floor and having the community meal in a traditional Sikh style, which is symbolic of equality.”
The temple has congregation members from the Sikh and Indian communities in Officer, Pakenham, Clyde, Cranbourne, Beaconsfield, Berwick.