Malaysian Gurdwara : Symbol of Religious and Racial Tolerance

January 18, 2007

Author: Nik Khusairi Ibrahim

Source: The Panthic Weekly

Penang, Maaylasia - The 'Wadda' Gurdwara Sahib that was built 105 years ago in Penang is a symbol of religious and racial tolerance. Believed to be the earliest Sikh temple in South-East Asia, the centre was, in the early 20th century, the main congregation area for people of Punjabi origin, regardless of their religious beliefs.

In the days of yore, Punjabis - including Hindus and practitioners of Sikhism - who were on trade missions to South-East Asia came to seek shelter at the centre.

The Gurdwara also attracted people of other races, and in the 1960s even foreign backpackers sought shelter there. However, the backpackers were reportedly barred from staying at the premises after they flouted temple rules.

Wadda Gurdwara Sahib Association president Harcharan Singh said Indian traders from Madras and Calcutta would stop over at the centre for refreshments.

"They also stopped by to replenish necessary supplies before continuing their journey to other, neighbouring countries," he said.

Harcharan said the centre that was a significant landmark for the Punjabi community used to be known as the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Sikh Temple.