Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 17 December 2012.Phone: 913-631-5947
Although Sikhism originated in India and remains strong in that area of the world, the religion has subsequently spread to many different regions of the world and now has a presence in eastern Kansas at the Sikh Temple (Midwest Sikh Association) located in the greater Kansas City area. Charanjit Hundal, the secretary of the gurdwara since 1989, willingly explains the center and basic Sikh practices to visitors. There are two religious leaders at the gurdwara. The Sikh community in Kansas City dates from the 1960s. The community was formed with only five families and originally met every Sunday in the homes of members. The community continued to operate out of private homes until 1978, when members began renting buildings on Sundays in order to accommodate the expansion of their community. Finally, in 1989, the Kansas City Sikhs completed a gurdwara (Sikh place of worship), where they continue to worship today.
Most of the people who worship at the Midwest Sikh Association are of South Asian ethnicity, and the dominant language is Punjabi. Even though the Sikh religion does not discriminate on the basis of sex or race, men and women are separated during worship services, with women sitting on one side of the gurdwara and men on the other. It is a Sikh custom that, while in the gurdwara, people must cover their heads and take off their shoes.
The Sikh gurdwara is made primarily of brick and provides ample room for the approximately two hundred followers who worship on an average Sunday. Before entering the service, worshipers take off their shoes, cover their heads if they have not already done so, and wash their hands in the lobby area in the front of the gurdwara. Up a short flight of steps from the lobby is a large worship room with an altar and no other furniture. The lower level consists of an open room for visiting and eating, a full kitchen, and several classrooms.
Activities and Schedule
The center's main activities are held on Sundays and usually one additional day during the week. The gurdwara opens at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings with a snack and tea. After this, a prayer and lecture session begins at 10:30 a.m., and a service begins at 12:00 p.m.. Services conclude with a community lunch beginning at 1:00 p.m., prepared and served in the lower level of the gurdwara. About one night per week, the gurdwara has some kind of activity celebrating a guru’s birthday or rejoicing in his life on the anniversary of his death. The Association provides a list of activities in their newsletter, mailed to members every six weeks. The education of Sikh children is important to the members of the gurdwara. Several children's classes meet on Sunday mornings. These classes teach children how to read and write Punjabi, the language of the Adi Granth, the sacred writings of Sikhism. While the children at the gurdwara learn how to speak Punjabi through communication with their parents, the gurdwara is mainly responsible for teaching the written language. This skill is necessary for reading and understanding Sikh scripture. Members of the gurdwara believe that this education will help keep the Sikh religion alive and strong for the next generation.
The Midwest Sikh Association is making a concentrated effort to participate in community service since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In addition, many Sikhs are attempting to distance themselves from the misplaced and harmful stereotype that terrorists wear turbans and have long beards. In order to increase public knowledge about Sikhism and interact with different religious leaders within the area, the gurdwara is currently involved with area interfaith organizations.
Student researchers were Chris Keil and Matt Bennett.