Sikh Community Mourns Loss of Leader

January 14, 2002

Source: Newsday

On January 14, 2002, Newsday reported that the New York Sikh leader "Harbhajan Singh... died Jan. 4 after a long battle with cancer... Several hundred mourners poured into the temple for a memorial service... [that included] 48 straight hours of reading the Sikh holy book out loud... Gyani Harbhajan Singh was the head priest at the Sikh temple, or gurdwara, in Plainview and a leading Sikh scholar... The reading marathon that ended yesterday was part of services Sikhs traditionally conduct to mark major occasions, including deaths, birthdays of prophets and even more earthly matters, such as buying a house... Many... said they regretted that they had lost a major leader at a time when Sikh men and women, who wear turbans or scarves on their heads, feel under siege after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks... The outpouring yesterday also was a tribute to Long Island's growing Sikh community, which numbers close to 8,000 people, most of them natives of India... To minister to them, the Plainview temple opened in 1987. A second temple opened in Glen Cove in 1998. Queens is home to thousands more Sikhs."