Nova Scotia Sikhs now have a new home with the opening of a new gurdwara, or Sikh place of worship, on Saturday.
The new building is at the site of the former gurdwara off Purcells Cove Road in Halifax.
When the original structure was built there were only 25 Sikh families in the region, according to Simardeep Caur Hundal, the president of the Maritime Sikh Society. There are almost a thousand Sikh families today, she said.
Hundal said the community simply outgrew the old building over the past decade. People stood outside to pray because there wasn't enough room inside.
The society realized there was no other option but to build a new one, she said.
With the rising price of land in Halifax, the decision was made to build on the site of the old structure. Hundal said worship was moved to a community member's home in 2020 so construction could begin.
She said a local fundraising campaign didn't collect enough money over the first eight years. Two years ago, the campaign was extended across Canada.
"We went to Vancouver first, then Calgary and then Toronto where we collected a lot of funds," Hundal said. "We have collected almost $1.4 million in the last two years just from the [Sikh] community all over Canada."
The new building was supposed to be ready by May. But shortages of labour and materials pushed it back.
Hundal said it was a frustrating but the community is glad it is all behind them now.
The gurdwara is central to Sikh community life, she said. It serves as a place for Sikhs to practise their faith, a community centre and a place for students to go for support and strength.
Hundal said the new gurdwara will encourage more Sikh families to stay in the province because they now have a place to practise their faith.
"Nova Scotia Sikh community was not growing because we didn't have a really big temple like we have in Ontario or in Vancouver," she said.
"Now, because we have a bigger temple, we will have a better retention rate here and … more people will stay for the long term."
According to Hundal, there were some complaints by neighbours about the large crowds that showed up for the opening on Saturday and some concerns that the large number of worshippers will disturb the neighbourhood.
Hundal said the society is working to create a better system that will minimize disruption.
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