New Sikh Gurdwara to Open in Queens

April 15, 2004

Source: The New York Times

On April 15, 2004 The New York Times reported, "From the outside, it looked like any other vacant lot, in a residential neighborhood in central Queens. But over the tall wooden fences yesterday morning came the sound of hundreds of voices chanting in unison... This was the groundbreaking for a new Sikh temple, or gurdwara, to be built on the same site - on 118th Street in Richmond Hill - where a previous temple burned down two years ago. For the city's 25,000 Sikhs, most of whom live in Queens, it was a momentous occasion... The destruction of the old temple, on March 8, 2002, was a traumatic event for many Sikhs in the New York area. Six visiting priests were injured in the fire, which began with a gas leak in a basement kitchen, and one of the priests later died. A beloved pilgrimage site for Sikhs throughout the country was suddenly gone, and ever since, the congregation of nearly 6,000 has had to worship in the much smaller private house next door, also owned by the society. The rebuilding effort was delayed by negotiations over insurance payments, and by disagreements over the plans for the new gurdwara, said Harpreet Singh Toor, the congregation's chairman. Yesterday, a model of the new temple was on display in the house. Unlike the old temple, a converted Methodist church, the new one will be modeled after Indian Sikh temples, with a dome on top and enough room inside for at least 3,000 worshipers at a time,"