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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oldest Indian Sikh Temple in the Philippines

                                "KHALSA DIWAN INDIAN TEMPLE "
Image Credit: Khalsa Diwan Indian Temple
Now days, the number of Indians have grown in the Philippines. Khalsa Diwan Indian Temple is the largest and oldest Indian Sikh Temple in the Philippines. It is located near the corner of Pancho Villa and U.N. Avenue Streets in Paco, Manila-Philippines where hundreds of Indians congregate every week.

 Unlike the grand Chinese temples in Binondo, the Indian Sikh Temple in Paco is humble in appearance--which reflects mainly about one of the Sikh religion's basic tenets: humility. The Khalsa Diwan Indian Temple was founded in 1929 from the contributions of the Sikh members who wanted a place of worship while away from their home in India.

Prior to entering the temple, everyone is asked to remove the shoes, and cover the head with a handkerchief. The temple has two stories, in the first floor was the office, the lobby, the langar (kitchen), and the spacious dining hall. At the upper floor is located the main worship hall. A faucet and soap is provided at the base of the marble stair and everyone must wash their hands and feet before going up to the worship hall. There are no religious icons in the main altar. Only the symbols of the faith, like the swords and spears, adorn the main altar. The gigantic holy book of Sikhism called Sri Guru Granth Sahib, is at the very center of the altar. No one is allowed to touch it, and it is covered with a cloth of linen and gold. It is only read during the worship service by the Granthi, or the High Priest. For those wanting to read its contents, many smaller book versions can be found located near the altar.

Sikhism, unlike Hinduism, is a monotheistic religion, believing only in One True God. Although there are similarities in practices such as vegetarianism, reincarnation, and karma, Sikhism and Hinduism are two very different religions. The founder of Sikhism, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539) was born a Hindu but was disillusioned by the Caste System--the division of Hindus into different class systems. He particularly detested the unfair treatment of the Untouchables, or the lowest Hindu caste, and the women's subservience to men. Guru Nanak thought that all people--men and women--are born equal.

In the temple, the faithfuls must bow to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and offer some donations to the altar. Afterwards, they sit at the proper designations to pray and listen to the chants and the readings of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.


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