This profile was last updated in 2014
The Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar grew out of a Sikh sangat (community) that attended the New England Sikh Study Circle in Milford, Massachusetts. In 1997 the establishment of the new sangat was led by Sardar Maan Singh Grewal, with meetings held in the houses of Sikh community members and later in rented properties. For the first several years after its formation, the sangat moved locations three times due to a continually increasing number of attendees. In May 2003, they purchased a building in the commercial hub of Medford and made it into their gurdwara. In January 2004, the sangat began using the newly purchased and renovated gurdwara in Medford. It provides a space to hold worship and educational programs for the sizeable community of Sikhs in Medford and its surrounding cities. The gurdwara serves those as nearby as Boston, Somerville, Cambridge and Malden and as far away as Woburn, North Andover and Manchester, New Hampshire.
The gurdwara is located in a two-story brick building which appears ordinary from the outside; however the inside proves to be an extensive and immaculate space. The ground level houses offices, bathrooms, a full kitchen and a large langar hall where free meals are served. The darbar sahib (main hall), several classrooms, and a room for the Guru Granth Sahib (holy scripture) to reside in are located upstairs. The space is well-utilized, holding Sunday and daily worship services as well as a variety of educational initiatives.
Activities and Schedule
Sunday Diwan (worship) is the principal way in which the sangat has an opportunity to practice their faith in a gurdwara setting. Every Sunday starts with the recitation of the five Nitnem banis (sections of holy texts), followed by the recitation of Sukhmani Sahib (specific set of hymns). Next, kirtan (devotional music) is sung by the youth of the community and then by the granthi (spiritual leader). Prayers, a reading from the Guru Granth Sahib, a message for the day, and langar (free community meal) follow. The sangat occasionally hosts professional Sikh scholars and musicians who travel around America giving lectures and performing kirtan. For more information regarding the time of Sunday Diwan or daily worship services, please refer to the gurdwara’s website. The Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar stresses the importance of seva (service), which is done by assisting the Sikh community or the community at large. It includes activities such as donating necessary materials to the gurdwara and preparing langar for the sangat or a local homeless shelter (which the sangat visits four times a year). Also important to the gurdwara are the courses offered to both children and adults. Classes include Punjabi language, kirtan and Gurbani (singing of the Guru Granth Sahib). In the past, educational opportunities for the sangat have included lecture series by Sikh scholars, and summer camps for children.
Sikhs of all ages worship at the gurdwara. Most attendees are of South Asian descent, and the majority are Punjabi. Approximately 100 people are in regular attendance at Sunday Diwan, although up to 300 attend holiday services. Students from a variety of universities in the Boston area attend on a sporadic basis.
The community is led spiritually by a granthi who has responsibilities such as leading the sangat in some of the prayers and hymns during diwan and teaching music classes. The affairs of the gurdwara are presided over by a management committee. In order to be part of the management committee one must be a member, which requires two years of regular attendance and a financial commitment to the gurdwara. Although the management committee is an authority, they emphasize that all are welcome to provide input, volunteer, and lead various projects whether or not they are members.