A visit to Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib was my first to a Sikh temple. I was very impressed by what I saw — especially by the kind hearts of the people who spend substantial time and money serving others.
Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib is one of the nine historical Gurdwaras (places of Sikh worship) in Delhi. It was originally constructed in 1783 by Baghel Singh to commemorate the martyrdom site of the ninth Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadur, who was beheaded here by the Mughal emperor in 1675 for refusing to convert to Islam. After some back and forth about whether the site was Muslim or Sikh, the British colonial government ruled in favor of the Sikhs, and the current facilities were constructed in 1930.
Gurdwara Sis Gank Sahib is located in the heart of Dehli’s old Chandni Chowk district, near the Red Fort (about a 10 minute walk away). It’s a busy neighborhood and there are many people who visit this Gurdwara each day.
Our (my guide and I) approach to the Gurdwara was from the back, past rooms which are rented out at very modest rates by the Gurdwara. There are many people in the entrance area, hanging out or waiting for one of the free meals that are offered at lunch and dinner each day. It is primarily, of course, a place of worship.
There is a main worship hall, beautifully finished, where musicians perform while chanting words from the Sikh’s holy book. Any can sit in and listen, as did I. Others were more demonstrative of their worship, although I did not fully understand what was happening.
The Gurdwara serves two free meals a day to anyone who wants or needs one. Tens of thousands of meals are prepared and served each day. The food is donated or purchased from Sikh donations. The labor in preparing the food is generally provided by volunteers — you’ll find everyone from a homeless street person to a lawyer to a politician working together in preparing a healthy meal, which they all then stick around and enjoy, too. Food is vegetarian and is very good. I visited late morning, just before the noon meal. Things were mostly in place for serving it, but the large hall where people squat to enjoy their meal was still empty.
I was genuinely touched by the charitable nature of the Sikh people. Not many go out of their way to provide tangible help to those in need, and in Delhi, there are still many who live in need.
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