Guelph, September 25 (CINEWS): Hundreds of Sikhs gathered at a ceremony for the start of construction of a new Gurdwara in Guelph. The beginning of construction marked the end of the acrimony that marked the exchanges between supporters and opponents of this project.
Construction of the 18,000 sq foot Gurdwara has begun on the 4.9 acre plot of land at 410 Clair Rd. E, near Victoria Road South and is expected to cost $8 million dollars, an amount that took years of fund-raising efforts and will be completed in about nine months.
In an exclusive interview with Can-India, Dr Ravi Rai, chief spokesperson for the Guelph Sikh Society said that this project would benefit the approximately 400 Sikh families living in the Guelph area. “We estimate about 600-700 families to move to Guelph in the near future and this Gurdwara would serve them well,” he said.
“We have 9 members in the Guelph Sikh Sangat and we are all working together very well for the benefit of the entire community,” said Dr Rai.
There will also be a main hall which will be used for marriage ceremonies. Langar will be served in the basement and every effort is being made to ensure devotees enjoy the experience of praying and attending ceremonies here.
At the ceremony, Rai dwelt briefly on the challenges faced by the Sikh community over the past two decades, including acts of vandalism and prejudice.
The Gurdwara construction faced opposition from Westminster Woods Residents’ Association who pressurised the Ontario Municipal Board to reject the proposal of construction.
The construction was approved after the challenge was dropped and the planning and designing work was started.
According to Dr Ravi Rai, there is a definite need to educate the community about Sikhism and what it stands for. “We had to deal with so much racism, some of the members were openly racist but most were nice. They need to see our culture and understand it for them to realize we are not a threat,” he said.