100th anniv of US Gurdwara recognised in Congress
Washington: The 100th anniversary of the first Gurdwara in the US was recognised in the American Congress this week, celebrating a century of Sikh immigration, with a lawmaker saying that no religion was more attuned to the country's Declaration of Independence than Sikhism.
Stockton Gurdwara Sahib came into existence in 1912 with joint efforts of Sardar Basakha Singh and Bhai Jawala Singh.
"There is no religion more attuned to the principles of the American Declaration of Independence than the Sikh religion. Both reject the idea of aristocracy and social class and instead judge every individual on his or her own merit and character," Congressman Tom McClintock of California, said in his speech on the floor of the US House of Representatives.
He said the Gurdwara is the story of a small group of families who long ago crossed a great ocean in search of religious tolerance and economic liberty.
He added that they moved in search of a land to raise their children according to their own values, to practice their religious beliefs openly, to express their opinions without fear of retribution, to live their lives according to their own best judgment, and not according to the whims and mandates of the powerful.
"That is the story of the pilgrims who crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower in 1620 seeking a better future in a free land for their descendants," McClintock said.
"It is the very same story of pilgrims like Baba Vasakha Singh and Baba Jawala Singh Thathian who founded the Stockton Gurdwara Sahib a century ago, and all those who have followed since," he said.
The Gurdwara was established in 1912 after a meeting held in Holt, a town near Stockton, where a committee was appointed to raise money for the construction of the Gurdwara. It was in September of 1912 when land was purchased on South Granth Street in Stockton for the use of the Gurdwara.
A small frame house that was already standing on the lot was used as the main building of the Gurdwara. This building still stands where a library is now implemented. A Nishan Sahib was also hoisted for the first time at the Gurdwara.
Baba Vasakha Singh and Baba Jawala Singh Thathian of Amritsar Sahib were appointed as the first Granthi Singh Jis of the Gurdwara.