The Sikh Society of Guelph officially moved out of their temple on Stevenson Street to their new location on Clair Road.
“This building has become sacred today,” said Dr. Ravi Rai Saturday as he stood in the main hall of the new Gurdwara on Clair Road as prayers commenced.
“Before it was a building and now it is a gurdwara,” he said speaking on behalf of the Guelph Sikh Society.
The inauguration of the new gurdwara saw nearly 300 people gather outside wearing masks to partake in the first prayer ceremony. Once inside the building, attendees had their temperature checked and the temple only allowed 250 people inside the main hall.
Together, Sikh families participated in hymns, raised the Nishan Sahib (Sikh flag) above the building, and prayed together— something they haven’t been able to do in a long time.
Rai said once the Guru Granth Sahib (holy scripture) books entered the building on Saturday, that’s when the gurdwara officially became a place of worship.
“We’re so happy it’s finally open. The recent community members, I’ve seen how hard they’ve worked day and night to get this done,” said Dolly Kambo, a member of Guelph Sikh Society since 1991.
“I can’t even tell you the happiness.”
The building was over a decade in the making and cost approximately $10 million. Community members of other faiths also joined the event excited to see the long term project finally come into fruition.
“The Hindus are waiting to build another temple but we consider this to be our temple also,” said the president of the Hindu Society of Guelph, Dhruv Shah.
“We are so lucky, so blessed that the whole community is together regardless of religion.”
Rai said many in the community were filled with tears and felt like the opening of the new Gurdwara was the best thing that could have happened at this time.
“It’s very emotional for people. It’s very emotional,” said Rai.
Rai said with this new building, the elders will be able to pass the baton onto the future generations of Sikhs in the area.
“We have to reflect on our past but primarily we’re looking at our future. In the next 20 to 30 years, where will our Punjabi community be?” he asked.
Jaldeep Raina a 22-year-old man born and raised in Guelph said it’s always important to feel a sense of community no matter where one lives, and now with the new Gurdwara, he knows there is a space for future generations.
“I’m thrilled to have the building built after so many years,” said Raina.
“It makes me want to stay here as long as possible.”