Construction of a two-storey building is underway in Canberra’s only Sikh temple (gurdwara) to serve the needs of the growing Sikh community in the Australian Capital Territory. The proposed plan is expected to accommodate 1300 worshippers.
The current gurudwara is a smaller building on Hickey Court next to the Orana Steiner School and the Baha’i Centre in Weston.
Satnam Singh Dabrikhana, President of Canberra Sikh Association, told SBS Punjabi that with the rapid growth of the Punjabi diaspora in the region over the last few years, the need for a second Sikh temple was becoming increasingly apparent.
“The already existing gurudwara was built seven years ago in 2012 and can accommodate only a small number of people at a given time, and during the big events like Gurupurab or the annual Baisakhi festival, it gets overcrowded, and people have to wait for long to enter the premises,” he said.
Sikh population more than doubled in Canberra in the last five years
According to the latest census data, the Sikh community in Canberra has seen a dramatic increase in population over the past five years.
In 2016, 2142 Sikhs were living in Canberra, but by 2021 that number had grown to 4,323.
Mr Singh said the new building will provide the growing Sikh community with more space to practice their faith and unite as a collective unit.
“It will have many amenities like a library, a larger community kitchen, Punjabi language classes and a larger space for community events,” he explained.
The committee overseeing the construction of the Sikh temple have also set out a plan to host the annual Sikh Games in the near future.
“Once the new building is ready, we will be in a position to host bigger events such as the Sikh Games, alongside other events and festivities.
“We currently have $1.6 million funding for the project, but the proposed plan will cost at least around $7 million over different stages,” he shared.
Many local MPs were in attendance at the foundation ceremony of the new complex.
“The ceremony was a vibrant affair with the crowd reciting prayers and playing the traditional Nagada (Indian drums).
“The community is ecstatic about the new building and is looking forward to coming together on special occasions at the bigger complex,” Mr Singh added.
Click here to listen to this audio interview in Punjabi: (go to end of page)