Congress recognises 100th anniversary of US gurdwara

Washington,USA: The 100th anniversary of the first gurdwara built in the United States was recognised in Congress this week, celebrating a century of Sikh immigration, with a lawmaker saying no religion was more attuned to the country’s Declaration of Independence than Sikhism.

Stockton Gurdwara Sahib came into existence in 1912 with the joint efforts of Sardar Basakha Singh and Bhai Jawala Singh.

“There is no religion more attuned to the principles of the American Declaration of Independence than the Sikh religion. Both reject the idea of aristocracy and social class and instead judge every individual on his or her own merit and character,” Congressman Tom McClintock of California said in his speech on the floor of the House of Representatives.

McClintock said the gurdwara was the story of a small group of families who long ago crossed a great ocean in search of religious tolerance and economic liberty. They moved in search of a land to raise their children according to their own values, to practise their religious beliefs openly, to express their opinions without fear of retribution, and to live their lives according to their own best judgment and not according to the whims and mandates of the powerful.

“That is the story of the pilgrims who crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower in 1620 seeking a better future in a free land for their descendants,” McClintock said.

“It is the very same story of pilgrims like Baba Vasakha Singh and Baba Jawala Singh Thathian who founded the Stockton Gurdwara Sahib a century ago, and all those who have followed since,” he said.

The gurdwara was established in 1912 after a meeting in Holt, a town near Stockton, where a committee was appointed to raise money for construction of the gurdwara. It was in September of 1912 when land was purchased on South Granth Street in Stockton for the use of the gurdwara.

A small frame house that was already standing on the lot was used as the main building of the gurdwara. This building still stands, housing a library. A Nishan Sahib was also hoisted for the first time at the gurdwara.

Baba Vasakha Singh and Baba Jawala Singh Thathian of Amritsar Sahib were appointed the first granthis of the gurdwara.


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