Pioneer Asian Indian Immigration to the Pacific Coast

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1915

Stockton Sikh Temple


This article originally appeared in the Stockton Record , November 22, 1915. Click for the photo which accompanied that article.

The new Sikh Temple of the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan (free divine communion) Society was dedicated yesterday with impressive ceremonies. The day selected for the formal opening of the new temple, which is located at 1936 South Grant street, was the 426th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, founder of the faith.

Fully two hundred prominent Stocktonians, to whom special invitations were issued, attended the dedicatory services. No shoe-clad person is permitted to step within the sacred precincts of the Temple. The American residents in conformity with the customs of the turbaned Hindus, removed their shoes before entering. They were provided with sandals but these were discarded at the door. The congregation sat upon the floor on costly rugs and carpets, facing the altar. There are no chairs or pews in the Sikh temple.

Great Gathering of Sikhs

In the morning services were conducted by priests of the temple in the Sikh language before a gathering of Hindus, about 400 of whom had come to Stockton from outside points to attend the opening. At 1 p.m. the services were resumed with the recitation of sacred hymns, which tell in the Hindu language of the life and teachings of Guru Nanak.

Following the above named service a meeting was held in the temple for Americans as well as Hindus and at this service a large number of Stockton residents as well as visitors from other cities were present. The Americans listed attentively to the explanation of the Sikh creed by Paradaman Singh who delivered an address.

Nand Singh presided as chairman of the meeting and outlined the objects of the society, which is incorporated for religious and educational propaganda in the United States. He explained the teachings of Guru Nanak and likened them to the teachings of the Puritans in the early days of New England.

Professor Pope Speaks

At the conclusion of the service in the temple proper, the American guests retired to the lecture rooms on the first floor of the temple, where several addresses were delivered and a musical program was rendered.

Professor Arthur U. Pope, of the philosophical department of the University of California, delivered the chief address on the meaning and significance of the Sikh movement. The Sikhs are a small minority of the total population of India, but their teachings have wrought a profound influence upon the life of that country. India has a total population of more than 300,000,000, and of these but 5,000,000 are adherents of this faith.

Sikh Opposes Idolatry

The Sikh believes, said Professor Pope, in a pure and lofty Monotheism. And when it is remembered that India has long been a country of many gods, the importance of such teaching can readily be seen. The adherents of this faith are strongly opposed to idol worship as well as to the use of an elaborate ritual.

This rejection of idol worship and the substitutions of the worship of one God which is a Spirit, bids fair to revolutionize the religious life of India, according to Professor Pope.

No Caste

With the rejection of idolatry goes also the repudiation of caste. The Sikh teaches the brotherhood of man and spurns all practice that places one individual above his fellows. This branch of the Hindu race endeavors to carry out this principle of equality by sharing property in common.

Tolerance is another principle of the Sikh religion, said Professor Pope. The Sikh is willing to read and study the religious principles of any other creed, and the scriptures of other sects are always found on their tables.

Based upon these religious principles, the moral teachings of the Sikhs are of a higher order, explained the speaker. In common with Christianity they teach that a manís life should be lived for the benefit of the world. They teach that one should contend for the oppressed even unto death and this principle has made of the Sikh a brave and valiant soldier in time of war.

Equality of Sex

Nand Singh, who presided over the exercises in the lecture room, explained that the Sikhs stand for the equality of the sexes in marked contrast to the ancient belief in the inferiority of woman, held in India.

Professor W.G. Everett, of Brown University, Providence, R.I., was present in the audience, and was called upon for an address. He spoke briefly and informally of the significance of the gathering and bespoke not only toleration but sympathy as well for the efforts being made by the Hindu people.

Other brief addresses were made by members of the Hindu race, and the exercises were concluded with a prayer in the Sikh language by Nand Singh.

The new temple is two stories in height, the temple proper being on the second floor. This is beautifully furnished and carpeted with very fine rugs. The first floor is fitted up with chairs and is arranged as a place for lectures and social gatherings.

It is the hope of the Sikhs to build a larger and finer structure when the time arrives that it shall be needed.

Free Dining Room for Poor

Nand Singh asked the Record today to call attention to the fact that the Pacific Khalsa Diwan Society maintains a free dining room in connection with its temple on South Grant street.

" We do not permit our people to become charges on public charity, " said Nand Singh. " If a man is hungry and out of funds, we feed him. Our dining room is open at all hours of the day, and is closed only for a few hours during the night. The unfortunate hungry American will be as welcome as our own people. We provide coffee, bread and cake and such other things as possible."

[End of Stockton Record article]

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Contact T.S. Sibia, tssibia@sikhpioneers.org

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Revised 3/20/2000