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Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh




Lt Gen Kartar Singh

As I read the news regarding the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birthplace of the Sikh - American Community at STOCKTON, California, my mind took me back to the year 1992. I was on a visit to my nephew in San Francisco. On our way to the suburbs, on a week day, we passed through Stockton and this Gurudwara caught my eye. It looked stately and on my request we dropped in to see it. Some repairs were underway and hence after a short halt we continued our journey. It did look ancient even then but little did I realize that it was then 80 years old. The American Sikhs had preserved the original building, unlike the custodians of Punjab's historic Gurudwaras most of whom have totally destroyed their heritage in the craze to build marble monuments.

The Stockton Gurudwara has retained its pre-eminence in the religious history of the North American Sikhs. Since the early immigrants faced lot of difficulties, Gurudwaras became the place of refuge as well as meeting places for the early revolutionaries. The traditional Sikh response against repression and domination was to fight back. Hence Gurudwaras became strong centres of political activity. Hence this Gurdwara was then called, "Gadari Babeyan da Gurudwara". An enchanting picture of this legendry Gurudwara  with it's congregation in ancient Sikh attire, manning it's every space - courtyard, staircases and various corridors reflects the vitality and togetherness of these brave immigrants.

It was in September of 1912 when land was purchased on South Grant Street in Stockton for the Gurudwara. A small farm-house  that was already standing on the lot was used as the main building. This building still stands. Baba Vasakha Singh and Baba Jawala Singh Thathian of Amritsar Sahib were appointed the first Granthi Singhs of the Gurudwara. A fifteen member committee from all walks of life was appointed for two years. Prayers first commenced at the Gurudwara grounds on Oct 24, 1912. This is also the time when Baba Teja Singh founded the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society in 1912 for the purpose of establishing a permanent Sikh settlement in the USA.

Brief Information on the centenary Celebrations
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Birthplace of the Sikh American Community, Stockton Gurudwara has planned the following activities

22 September 2012 - A Conference on "100 Years of Sikhs in the USA (A Western Perspective)
Where: Faye Spanos Concert Hall, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95211

Join up at this free conference to revisit the 100-year-old culture and history of Sikhs in the United States of America. Learn about the Ghadar Party, which launched India's independence struggle. Discover Bhagat Singh Thind, the first Sikh in the U.S. Army and a pioneer for Asian immigration rights. Meet Dalip Singh Saund, the first Asian, Indian, and Sikh ever to serve in the U.S. Congress. Complimentary food will be provided throughout the day.

23 September 2012 - Sikh History Museum opens
Where: Stockton Gurdwara Sahib, 1930 S. Grant St., Stockton, CA 95206

The first musuem of its kind in the USA will open on Stockton Gurdwara's grounds. Its premier artifact is the hand-cranked printing press used by the revolutionary Ghadar Party leaders (who also founded Stockton Gurdwara) to print The Ghadar, the first Punjabi-language newspaper in the USA. Published from 1913 to 1948, this paper was instrumental in achieving India's independence from the British Empire.

September 30, 2012 - A Conference on "100 Years of Sikhs in the USA (An Eastern Perspective)
Where: Faye Spanos Concert Hall, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95211; In honor of 100th anniversary of the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society, this one-day, free centennial conference, presented in the Punjabi language, will revisit the impact of Sikhs on American and world history as seen by Eastern scholars.

October 13 & 14, 2012 - Community Centennial Celebration
Where: Stockton Gurdwara Sahib, 1930 S. Grant St., Stockton, CA 95206

Hosted on the grounds of Stockton Gurdwara Sahib, this will be the celebration of the centenary. Mark your calendars now to reserve this weekend for the enjoyment of yourself and your whole family.

Remembrance Meeting Held
Sikhya Seekers along with the International Sikh Confederation, Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Bhai Jaitaji Foundation India and Punjab Digital Library held a four hour function at the Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan, Sector 28 -A, Chandigarh. The Chief organizer Col Parminder Singh, President Sikhya Seekers, who along with his efficient team projected a short documentary created by them showing the Stockton Gurudwara and documenting pictorially with commentaries of the Gaddar Movement. This was accompanied by very interesting and informative talks by Lt. Gen Kartar Singh Gill, PVSM (Retd), S. Harpal Singh and Principal Gurbux Singh Shergill. It was indeed well attended and took us all, young and old, down memory lane to the valiant deeds of the heroes of the past whose actions contributed considerably to the freedom of our country from the shackles of British Rule.

The Sikh communities have flourished over the years, in spite of the recent trauma at Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where a gunman with ties to the white power movement, entered the Gurudwara and shot to death six Sikh worshippers. Sikhs are happily settled in the broad sun-drenched valleys of California where the crops sown are the same as in Punjab. California has instituted new regulations to protect our immigrants very recently. We therefore wish these brave settlers a very happy and comfortable future.



ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2012, All rights reserved.