History of Cambridge Gurdwara
Since the opening of the Cambridge Gurdwara in January 2013, the Sangat has maintained a fully functioning Gurdwara. This has included daily morning Nitnem and evening Rehraas congregational worship, and a main Sunday congregation involving Keertan, Paath and Langar activities. Resident Giani’s have also enabled access to religious services as required throughout the day. Keertan classes are held every Sunday afternoon by Ustad Bhai Satwinder Singh Ji and Jatha.
All major programmes in the Sikh Calendar are celebrated or commemorated including Gurpurab’s, Vaisakhi, and Bandi Chor Divas festivals, and important community events of socio-political significance. Langar is served on all occasions and, in the tradition of the Sikh community, is freely distributed to all, with the community meal prepared by the Sangat for the Sangat.
The Gurdwara continues to develop it’s facilities through new installations of audio-visual equipment, main hall development and general building renovations. The generous donations of the Sangat have permitted these developments whilst also enabling the repayment of the loan required to procure and renovate the building. By January 2015, the outstanding loan had been reduced to £110k from an initial £285k and it is hoped that the Gurdwara Management Team will soon be in a position to explore further enhancements to infrastructure and services.
20th January 2013 – Formal Opening
Formal inauguration of the Cambridge Gurdwara, was attended by the local Sangat (congregation) in great numbers, key dignitaries from the Cambridge political scene and eminent Sikh personalities throughout the UK. The whole event was covered live by the Sikh Channel (TV), BBC Radio and both international and local press.
Keynote addresses included Sardar Prabsharandeep (Oxford University), Bibi Mejinderpal Kaur (Director,United Sikhs), Rt. Hon. Julian Huppert MP (Cambridge), Cambridge Mayor Sheila Stuart, Cllr Sian Reid (City Leader), and several local county and city councillors. The Keertan programme was led by Bhai Baldev Singh Jatha, followed by Bhai Satwinder Singh Jatha, and concluded by Bhai Balwinder Singh Jatha.
6th January 2013 – Establishment
On the 6th January 2013, the Cambridge Gurdwara was inaugurated with the arrival of Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the sacred text of the Sikhs. On behalf of the Cambridge Sikh Sangat, five members of the congregation assembled at the newly acquired Cambridge Gurdwara site, and following the Ardaas prayer, travelled to the Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Peterborough. There, again following prayers, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, together with representatives of the management committee of both Gurdwara’s, arrived at the Cambridge Gurdwara building where formal inaugurations took place. The ceremonial installation of Siri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj marked the completion of the Gurdwara at Cambridge.
2011-2013 Gurdwara Project: updated Constitution, Fundraising, and Building Acquisition & Renovation
The lack of a permanent Gurdwara was long overdue with the current monthly Divaan located away from the City Centre, and together with its intermittent nature making attendance difficult for students, professionals and many of the dispersed congregation. The need for a permanent Gurdwara and Sikh Centre that enables the local Sikh community to grow, thrive and develop its full potential, inspired by the teachings of our ten Guru’s, eternally embodied in the writings of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and the spirit of the Saad Sangat and Khalsa required a focused project. This involved the creation of a project team to update management structures, fundraise and identify a suitable location for establishing a permanent Gurdwara.
In January 2011, under a new consensus based team of Sevadaars, the Sangat resolved to raise funds and adopt appropriate organisational structures to enable the establishment of a permanent Gurdwara in Cambridge. Thus under a new Constitution, and as an Incorporated legal entity involving time-limited tenures for Trustees, a major fund raising campaign enabled the successful acquisition of premises in early 2012. Following a successful change- of-use planning approval a few months later, renovation work commenced at a pace during the summer of 2012. Generous donations from the Cambridge Sangat (time and money) and free of charge materials from Sikh businesses in the UK enabled the renovation work to be completed by end 2012 facilitating the opening of the first Gurdwara in Cambridge, and indeed throughout Cambridgeshire, in January 2013.
During 2011 and 2012, links with Cambridge University have been greatly strengthened, in anticipation of growing numbers of students and staff. The University provides a historical significance with famous Sikh alumni, including the first SGPC Professor of Sikhism, Prof. Kapoor Singh, and the former Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. In similar fashion other Institutional links with Anglia Ruskin University were being developed.
The Cambridge Sikh Society (CSS), a registered charity since 1982, had been actively serving the local Sikh Community in Cambridge and surrounding areas for over 25 years. Amongst its main activities was a regular monthly Divaan, held on the last Sunday of each calendar month, where the local Sikh Sangat meets to receive our Guru Ji blessings, participate and share in our community Langar and address the local Sikh community’s basic needs. However, with the growing population of Sikhs in Cambridgeshire attracted by its splendid historical city, its outstanding world leading University Colleges and high-tech industries, the lack of a permanent Gurdwara in Cambridgeshire to serve the needs of this growing Sikh community is a major shortcoming.