This profile was last updated in 2003
Activities and Schedule
Singh Sabha Gurdwara usually holds Kirtan on the first Saturday of every month at Shepherd of the Hills Church. The service starts at 11:00 a.m. and is followed by a community (pangat) meal (Langar). The schedule is subject to change, so consult their website before attending.
History and Community Relations
Although Singh Sabha Gurdwara is a relatively young organization, the Sikh community is not new to Austin. Rather, Singh Sabha Gurdwara represents a new initiative, sponsoring Sikh culture and community as well as greater dialogue with the Austin community.
Singh Sabha Gurdwara works closely with Sikhs from other neighboring centers and has invited leaders of these communities to their Kirtans. Singh Sabha Gurdwara has also sponsored cultural events such as concerts and dance performances. The creation of a website has been very helpful to students and other Sikhs who are visiting the city and wish to find a gurdwara in Austin. (Special thanks to the Singh Sabha Gurdwara webmasters for providing a photograph of one of their Kirtans.)
While Sikhs had previously been represented at interfaith functions, Singh Sabha Gurdwara was the first Sikh faith group to become a member of Austin Area Interreligious Ministries. By working with AAIM, Singh Sabha Gurdwara has been able to create greater public awareness of the Sikh faith.
Singh Sabha Gurdwara had been in existence for only sixth months when 9/11 occurred. Recognizing a threat to the Sikh community, Singh Sabha Gurdwara joined a national campaign to increase public awareness of the Sikh faith and create greater safety for the Sikh community. One highlight of the Austin campaign was a public showing of the documentary “Mistaken Identity.” The event was sponsored by the entire Sikh community as well as allies from AAIM and the Austin Police Department. Preceding the film was a traditional Punjabi dance recital performed by local high-school students. The public was invited to raise any questions they had about the Sikh religion.
Demographics and Language
The community of Singh Sabha Gurdwara is predominantly Punjabi Indians with a few Anglo-Americans. American Sikhs do visit Singh Sabha Gurdwara for Kirtans from time to time. The Kirtan is conducted in the Punjabi language. Transliterated texts for hymns are usually available. For the annual Hemkunt speech competition, both English and Punjabi are acceptable idioms, however, Punjabi is preferred and merits an additional reward for winners.
Singh Sabha Gurdwara rents the main hall from Shepherd of the Hills Church. To prepare for the Kirtan, the floor is covered with white sheets. A special wooden housing (Palki Sahib) for the Guru Granth Sahib is brought in and assembled. After the service, the Guru Granth Sahib is removed from the room and Langar begins.
Singh Sabha Gurdwara hopes to one day create their own space. This goal has been delayed in part by the city’s soaring real estate values. A permanent gurdwara would have a room where the Guru Granth Sahib is kept at all times.
In addition to the monthly Kirtan service, Singh Sabha Gurdwara sponsors a number of cultural events and religious services. Singh Sabha Gurdwara celebrates Baisakhi on April 13th, commemorating the founding of the Khalsa order. Gurupurab holidays honoring the dates of birth and death for the gurus are also celebrated throughout the year. Consult their website for a list of upcoming events.
The Hemkunt is an annual competition where young Sikhs recite essays concerning their faith. Winners receive monetary rewards and may continue to competition at the zonal level. The contest proceeds to national and international levels. There are five age categories for children as young as six to young adults as olds as twenty-two.