The Start Humble Gurdwaras Movement

Sikhs in the West tend to build very large hard to heat and cool Gurdwaras. Here are some examples of typical big Gurdwaras in the USA.
I think Sikhs need to start more Gurdwaras. They should be humble halls.
Many/most Gurdwaras are presently run by men whose hearts, minds and politics are back in India. Many Gurdwaras are corrupt and it is against Khalsa Knighthood vows to hang out in corrupt organizations.

Sikhs are already split and it is not going to help anyone to have Holy Wars. Sikhs who wish to see women on the boards of directors and up front during services need to create that. We will come.

The Protestants have done very well endlessly schisming and starting new Faiths. They are extreme. But all the world’s top religions have their two or three threads, or vehicles as the Buddhists say.

Orthodox, Moderate and Reform for Jews. Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant for Christians. Sunni, Shi’ite and so forth.

Far as I can see a great many Sikhs follow Jathedars, Deras, Sants. Babas and Yogis and that is their right. It is a free universe. They claim the SGGS as their scripture but it is my opinion that Guruji is not awake and alive for them. They do not appear to be reading the SGGS. If Guruji wishes to awaken them, that will be great but in the meantime, why not just call them a distinct group. A big group of all sorts of little groups.

Then there are the Dasam Granth over the SGGS folks. War is not practical. So I feel they can go do whatever they want to.

In the West it is EASY to schism and start over again. Fresh and clean. Small humble Gurdwaras. Let the bad guys keep those huge gaudy Indian Raj architecture monsters heated and cooled.

Do not participate in sexist, racist, institutions. Why would Khalsa Knights participate in corrupt Gurdwaras? Tranformation is fast when we simply vote with our feet and wallets.


I have observed very good solution – to start a small Gurduara
Sahib, which could be managed in the light of Guru’s Teachings, like the concept
of “Begumpura” where all participate as equals – None high, none low, none stranger.
It should be free from paid Bhais/Raagis/socalled Jathedaars or any cult like baba /
organization. Perhaps some Young Sikhs – females and males would set up such
a Congregation Hall. I will try in this direction provided there are ten more mates.

Gurmit Singh – Australia



Filed under Sikh Women's Movement, Sikhi

10 responses to “The Start Humble Gurdwaras Movement

  1. Kulwant Singh

    I support you on this (take your pick):
    1. It will inculcate true Sikhi values amongst participants
    2. More Gurdwaras, more people get a chance of being Pradhan
    3. Sikh Visibilty improves in the surrounding community, provided they behave (see reason 4 &6)
    4. Less fight for Kursi
    5. Sanagt can participate inGuru Granth Sahib discussions
    6. Competition may be more, as each Gurdwara will want to attract Sangat from other (may be to get more Charhawha) which will lead to efficiency.
    7. Sangat may organise positive things for Community.
    8. Chances for Teenager & young adults to learn more about Sikhi increases.
    9. Funds rather than being spent on bldgs or court cases may be spent on Sikh education & for spreading Guru’s message.
    10. Paople will be less tempted to go to court for getting ‘Kursi’ and will open a new Gurdwara, whenever a group wants to show their leadership potential.
    11. With more number of Gurdwaras, ploticians will have to visit some of them during Vote catching season. Some good organisers may get better promises form these politicians for benefits of Sikhs including lesser discrimination.
    12. Sikh’s visibility may improve.
    Please feel free to add including some drawbacks.

  2. kamallarosekaur


    Wahe Guru Ji ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh

    Hi Gurmit Singh and all,

    Can you define “Pradhans” and “Goluck” for me and nonSikhs?

    Also just so we are all on the same page, here is what is common practice for most Faiths in the West, far as I understand:

    Usually churches, synagogues, temples have their financial books open to anyone who is a member. “Membership” usually implies that you are willing to give regular donations, or tithe – and also you give your time to sit on the various committees (Finance, Public Relations, Grounds and Maintenance, Children’s Education, Social Justice, Worships Arts, and Caring for Sick and Shut-ins – thesw sorts of committees are pretty common to every church and synagogue I am aware of). Ideally about 1/3 of your weekly worship service will be attended by “members”, 1/3 by people who come every week but who are not yet members (so you try to get them to join one of the committees so they get more involved in the running of the community and eventually become members) and 1/3 of the people each week are newcomers. There is a an elected Board of Directors (both women or men) and a paid minister or Rabbi (female or male).

    How are Gurdwaras run differently from what Westerners are used to, as described above?

    Kamalla Rose Kaur


    Pradhan – President

    Whatever it says in the constitution the Pradhan runs the show. As a female Prabandhak Committee member said during the election process of one of the local Gurdwaras : my programme is to do what the Pradhan says.

    Golak – Collection Money

    I understand where Gurmit Singh gets the u from in his version (in Panjabi or Punjabi there is an unwritten letter which traditionally was transcribed as u and these days mostly as a, and is pronounced as neither), where the c comes from I do not know.

    In most modern Gurdwaras it is the Kursi (seat, in this case the seat of office) and the Golak that it is all about. The first Sikh related Panjabi I was taught was Golak Chor = Collection Thief !


    Harjinder Singh


    Dear Kamalla Rose Kaur,

    A Pradhan is meant to be the Head of an organisation with a remit to oversee its current and future operations. They are meant to be responsible, articulate, have vision, all of the seven Nolan Principles of public life, etc.

    In (Sikh) reality, most of them are people whose own family has disowned, have immense ego problems, usually puppets if not complete waste of space and life.

    They like any title they can barely pronounce, Chair(man), President, Jathedar, Sarpanch etc

    Goluck is the (big) box in which one pays Darshan Peta when mathaa Teking – it is a generic term for the collection box, bank account, kitty etc.

    Hope this helps – imagine what problems there are for the non-English speaking Giani’s too

    Harmander Singh

  3. kamallarosekaur


    Waheguru jee ka Khalsa Waheguru jee kee Fateh

    “Pradhan” in English means “President” – best example is Mr. George W. Bush
    or take any other such powerful Person, who thinks to be the wisest & powerful.
    In most of Gurduaras, Sikh Presidents think so as I
    have observed.

    “Goluck” is a steel box duly locked by the Gurduara Committe and placed
    between Guru Granth Sahib and Sangat, where we put some coins or notes
    while bowing before it. Though such a small contribution is essential to manage
    the Gurduara logistics, it has become a big problem as we have seen fightings
    to control this money box. Perhaps, there was no Goluck when Guru Nanak
    Sahib used to impart Gurbaani and Gurmatt Teachings. Then Sikhs were more
    thorough in Sikhie whereas look around now? Have Golucks, Presidents, Bhais,
    Raagis have brought any worthy improvement except their own vested interest?

    There could be alternative to have contributions / donations like Red Cross and
    other charitable organizations provided spent where it is needed in the light of
    Guru’s Teachings.

    I have observed that Churches open for assembly for certain fixed hours. It
    could be done so by Sikhs, for example two hours congregation in the morning
    and or evening. All should participate in Kirtan or Kathaa and Paath recitation
    depending upon their interest and knowledge. It is like Seva by Tann, Mann and
    Dhann – voluntary service depending upon ones capacity.

    Gurmit Singh (Australia)

    PS Many thanks for further clarification and I agree with you.

    I am under the impression that one who controls the Golak, he is definitely a ” Go Lucky” person because Goluck changes his luck !

    Gurmit Singh

  4. jeetan

    Hi all
    There is nothing wrong with the humble gurudwara movement but I think and this is solely my personal view that if I can live in half a million dollar house then my guru should live in a multimillion dollar house or gurudwara, I am sorry I am not as humble as all of you people, I hope guru ji will show me the way towards simple living one day

    • TheSikhGeek

      I can understand your thinking Jeetan, but I think of it another way. Would I want my spouse/child/parent to live in a small, cozy house surrounded by family that love and cherish them, or in a crowded shopping mall filled with strangers and people of all types? A large Gudwara may impress people who look at it, but Sikhs who carry a deep faith that is nurtured by small, sincere congregations, they will deeply impress people in their souls.

  5. kamallarosekaur

    Hi Jeetan,

    Each Sangat (congregation) is free to do as they choose with the Goluk, assuming they have a Finance committee with open books. Building energy efficient, beautiful Gurdwaras is a fine idea. But whether the Sangat is rich or poor, Guruji will not be surrounded by people who ignor Guruji’s teachings. That is the important thing.

    Here in the USA I think the huge Sikh Gurdwaras appear to be selling conspicuous consumption. Only the Mormons and the Hari Krishnas and Disneyland build such big fancy temples. The Catholics used to, but they stopped. Too much criticism about how their cathedrals were full of gold while the people were poor as dirt.

  6. Hari

    Let me share my experience from India. There has existed, for decades, if not ceturies, such a movement of small-little grass root Gurdwaras in India. These Gurdwara’s are called Singh Sabha Gurdwaras. Sometimes even non-Sikhs also have Gurdwaras.

    Sabha means council. Singh Sabha means council of Sikhs (or Singhs).

    My dad helped write the constitution of the local Gurdwara where we used to live. So there’s a position for President (Prdhan), Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer etc. There are elections ever year or two years. All Sikhs in that area are allowed & expected to vote.

    If the council treasury can afford, they hire a Bhai or a Paathi (kinda priest) to do the paath and take care of the other day to day activities. A sevadar is hired to assist the bhai. The two are paid employees and are responsible for opening and closing the gurdwara, prepare a small Langar often consisting of snacks and tea, and whatever else the council plans for them. Sometimes the bhai’s wife is the sevadarni and together they take care of things.

    There’s a library there. All your’ & kids’ used books can end up there. There’s a kitchen. At some places I have heard even a gym !!

    This is where the Gurpurabs are celebrated. The Gurdwaras cater to the needs of local sikhs. You can ‘rent’ the Guru Granth Sahib from there and rent other things that are needed for doing an Akhand-paath at your home. And you wash and return those things back to the gurdwara so that some one else can rent it. the rent is pretty nominal and often voluntary.

    The council helps arrange accommodation for the Bhai and the Sevadar and their families. A lot of the times, there’s a few rooms in the Gurdwara where the Sevadars (including bhai) and their families can stay.

    Also there’s enough room for any strangers who may show-up and need to spend a night (or few) there. The sevadars will ensure food and accommodation for them. The council will, if need be, help such a person in whatever way they can, e.g. to find job etc, or the fare to get a ticket back home & things like that.

    Another interesting fact about Gurdwaras is that there are Gurdwaras in places where there’s no Sikh for hundreds or even thousands of miles, and still those Gurdwaras are running. Most of these Gurdwaras were started when Guru Nanak visited those places. Other gurus as well but mostly Guru Naanak. Examples are in Pakistan, North Eastern India. There is a Gurdwara in Baghdad. It was built when Guru Naanak visited Baghdad few centuries ago :). It got bombed in the recent war, and I read somewhere that it was repaired (by US or Iraqis or both) and is up-n-running again!!

  7. kamallarosekaur

    How about organic gardens? Do Gurdwaras in India ever include food production?

  8. kamallarosekaur jee,
    Waheguru Ji K Khalsa Waheguru Ji ki Fateh. I was searching for “open Gurudwara” and stumbled upon your blog. I admire your courage and understanding. I am also trying to come up with an “Open Gurudwara” just like brother Gurmit SIngh mentioned free of Bhai/Jathedars/Deras/Babas. Free from elections, free from golak(similar Church’s collection tray). Open Gurudwara on the same line s of “open software” and may be credit union style membership. Everybody is equal member of gurudwara no President, no treasurer(as no golak). Kirtan/ardas performed by people drawn from sangat on a rotation basis, including women and kids, yeah kids too. Since there will not be any organizing commitee or President/pradhan, no power struggles, no use of kirpans for attcking others and maligning Sikhism. No court cases because no opprtunity for any monetary gains. Instead of having “Langar” use those resources to feed the homeless or donating to food banks, in true spirit of “Wand Chhakna” and “Sarbat da bhala”.

    Waheguru Ji K Khalsa Waheguru Ji ki Fateh

  9. kamallarosekaur

    I pray you serve Langar AND donate to the Food Bank. It is important for Sikhs to eat together. Sit together, sing together, prayer together, and eat together – then go home.

    Happy that you want to start a humble Gurdwara. This blog is pretty dormant. I have moved on to other projects. But please share this page anyway!

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