Fifty Sidakers and I embarked on an unforgettable journey to The Gur Sikh Temple (Gurduara) in Abbotsford, BC, a hidden gem that has stood the test of a century. This place holds historical significance and embodies the spirit of love, commitment, and strength that resonates with every fiber of my being.
As I stepped into the gurduara, the weight of its history enveloped me. Designated as a National Historic Site in 2002, this gurduara carries the stories of struggling settlers who arrived from Panjab in the Fraser Valley in 1905. They were men who toiled in lumber mills, but their hearts were set on creating a sanctuary that would stand as a testament to their faith.
In 1908, they acquired a piece of land, nestled slightly higher than its surroundings, to establish their beloved gurduara. The determination and resilience of these men knew no bounds. I was moved to tears when Dr. Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, the historian at Parks Canada, shared the touching story of how they asked their boss for lumber. With permission to take whatever they could carry, after an exhausting eight-hour workday, they carried the lumber back to the gurduara, covering a distance of half a kilometer. My heart swelled with awe and admiration for their unwavering love, dedication, and strength.
However, amidst celebrating their triumph, I couldn't overlook the challenges that my fellow Sikhs had to face. Legal and social barriers stood as harsh obstacles in their path. In 1914, the Komagatu Maru ship, carrying 376 would-be Indian immigrants, was heartbreakingly denied entry into Vancouver harbor. Cheers from the shores of British Columbia added insult to injury as these hopeful individuals were sent on a grueling journey back to India.
Yet, despite the hardships, the Sikh community persisted. After the First World War, the Canadian government gradually lifted restrictions on Sikhs, allowing families to reunite and build a better life together.
As I sat there, enveloped by the sanctity of the gurduara, I couldn't help but reflect on its profound lessons. The spirit of those early settlers, their unyielding commitment to their faith, and their resilience in the face of adversity inspire us all.
In our fast-paced world, it's easy to forget the essence of love and sacrifice that forms the foundation of our communities. The Gur Sikh Temple (Gurduara) is a timeless reminder of the power of unity and devotion. It calls us to cherish our roots, respect our past, and honor the efforts of those who came before us.
As we stand on the shoulders of those who endured and persevered, let us not forget the lessons of their struggles. In our lives, we may face insurmountable challenges, but we must draw strength from the stories of our ancestors. Their courage will empower us to overcome obstacles and navigate life's trials with unwavering faith and determination.
Let us cherish this legacy of love and remember that it lives within us. May we carry forward the spirit of those who built this gurduara, sharing love, compassion, and unity with everyone we encounter.
As I left the gurduara, my heart overflowed with gratitude for the opportunity to witness this living testament to love. The Gur Sikh Temple (Gurduara) honors the past and ignites a fire within us to embrace its profound teachings. It inspires us to lead lives filled with purpose, compassion, and a deep connection to our roots.
Thanks to the remarkable historian, Dr. Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, from Parks Canada, the history of this gurduara truly came alive during our visit.