Parade and prayers mark 25th anniversary of Pattaya Sikh Temple

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Hundreds of Sikhs celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Siri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara (Sikh temple) in Pattaya with 3 days of prayers culminating in a beachfront parade on October 25.

During the celebration period, passages from the Guru Granth Sahib were read for 48 hours continuously as per tradition. This is known as ‘Arambta of Akand Path Sahib’ which when completed is called Sampooranta.

A magnificent elephant leads the procession down Beach Road.

People of all faiths were welcome to partake in the Guru ka Langar (community kitchen) during the whole period. Volunteers served it with a spirit of Seva (service) and Bhakti (devotion).

The parade along Beach Road was led by a magnificent elephant followed by the Guru Granth Sahib which was placed on a float strewn with flowers. Five armed guards, representing the Panj Pyares (the five beloved and courageous ones), headed the procession carrying Nishan Sahibs (the Sikh flag).

Lahkwinder Singh Kukreja carries the holy Guru Granth Sahib with the highest of reverence into the Sikh temple.

The parade included performances by Sikh martial artists from Malaysia known as the Gatka group, and the Royal Thai Navy band.

That evening Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome honoured the citizens of the Sikh faith by attending the evening prayers and celebrations. Wearing a yellow symbolic shirt replete with a saffron coloured turban he paid his respects to the holy Guru Granth Sahib and sat on the floor as ragis chanted kirtans (religious songs) in praise of the Supreme Being.

Gianiji Deep Singh watches over the Guru Granth Sahib on the flower bedecked carriage.

Mayor Itthiphol addressed the Sikh congregation expressing his profound respects and appreciation to the Thai Sikh community who are vital to Pattaya’s economic, cultural and social life.

Amrik Singh Kalra, president of the Siri Guru Singh Sabha, Pattaya and the Thai Sikh community in Pattaya recognised distinguished persons who had contributed their services to the Sikh community by presenting them with a siropa, a traditional shawl of honour. The recipients included Mayor Itthiphol and Jaspal Singh Sachdev, president of the Siri Guru Singh Sabha, Bangkok.

Paramjit Singh Ghogar respectfully washes the feet one of the Panj Pyare before entering the holy premises.

In turn Sardool Singh Sethi, the most senior member of the Sikh community in Pattaya presented a siropa to Amrik Singh to honour and thank him for his lifelong service not only to the Sikh community but also for his contributions and service to society as a whole.

The history of Sikhs in Pattaya and the Gurdwara dates back to 1975. In those days there were only a handful of Sikh families engaged in the clothing business in our small fishing village.

Young Sikhs of the Royal Thai Armed Forces march proudly in the parade.

With the departure of US military presence in Thailand around that time, Sikh families from all over Thailand saw the opportunity to migrate to Pattaya and set up shops to cater to the budding tourism industry.

As the Sikh community grew, their need to have a house of worship to practice their faith became quite necessary. Having rented temporary lodgings to set up a small Gurdwara, the heads of the Sikh community led by Amrik Singh Kalra, in all their wisdom decided that it was time to have a permanent home where Sikhs and people of all faiths could congregate in holy prayer.

Head priest ‘Gianiji’ Deep Singh leads the congregation in prayers.

A suitable piece of land in Soi 17 South Pattaya was purchased and after years of painstaking work, the magnificent three-storied golden-domed Sikh temple was consecrated on October 28, 1990. It was indeed a grand affair as Sikhs from all over Thailand and other countries marched in a parade similar to the present day procession, rejoicing in their great achievement.

Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol ‘Singh’ Kunplome address the Sikh congregation.

Mayor Itthiphol respectfully receives the siropa from Amrik Singh Kalra.

Jaspal Singh Sachdev expresses his profound happiness.

Amrik Singh receives the siropa from Sardool Singh Sethi. At right is Paramjit Singh Ghogar a most devout ‘sevadar’ of the gurdwara.

Mayor Itthiphol Singh poses for a photograph with the organisers of the 25th anniversary celebrations.

The Sikh Temple was a joyful scene as people of all faiths rejoiced.

Three generations of Sikhs danced and sang down Beach Road as laughter filled the air.