The Gurdwara Vs. The Church

First of all, I commend all the people who take care of the Gurdwaras on a daily basis....

I have been a part of the Sikh community for about two years now and have attended Gurdwara services across the state of Texas. From Dallas-Fort Worth, to Houston, to San Antonio, and to Austin. I haven't visited ALL of the Gurdwaras (I've visited about 80%) but I have a good picture of the lay of the land here. As a former Christian, when I compare the Gurdwaras to the church, I see a lot of room for improvement in the Gurdwara. I'll touch on this more below. 


When it comes to the church, not only do you have nursery for babies and Sunday School, you have classes for those over 18. Some churches have young adult/college student class, ladies class (which my mom use to teach), men class, Senior Saints (aka old people class), classes for people who don't speak English (so for people from Mexico, to India, to Kenya, etc.), and this list gets bigger the bigger the church is. In these classes, we are not only learning about our religion, but we are supporting each other spiritually.

When it comes to the Gurdwara, what do we have? Khalsa school. Period. And Khalsa schools/Sikhya classes only go up to a certain age. Where does that leave all the Sikhs over 15-16 at? "But there's camps!". First of all, not everyone can afford to go to the camps or are able to. Secondly, you can not create a solid Sikh lifestyle based on a few days out of the year you go off into the woods. It is important that Sikhs of all ages are continually learning no matter what stage they're at. Heck, the word "Sikh" means learner. 

Bhai Sahibs:

For the most part, pastors at Churches are pretty approachable and are available to go to for help or advice. And let's say you speak Spanish. Someone at the church can translate what the pastor is saying to you (or they can at least find someone to do it). It makes the church feel that much more welcoming to the outside community and like a place of acceptance and comfort. On top of that, you might have deacons, ministers, bishops, priests, nuns, etc. who are versed in the religion and that you can approach if you don't feel like approaching the head. 

First of all, I commend all the people who take care of the Gurdwaras on a daily basis. It isn't easy (especially living in the conditions some of ya'll do). But don't you think it would help a lot if the people taking care of the Gurdwara could not only speak Punjabi but the language of the local people? Or better yet, who are approachable?  I'm looking dead at you Gurdwara committees and Presidents. There are a few Gurdwaras here in Texas where the Granthis speak English. And that makes the experience that much better and makes the Gurdwara feel that much more welcoming. Not only is it great for Punjabis who cannot speak Punjabi (like some Sikh kids I know can't) and converts who cannot speak Punjabi, but great for interfaith activities. I'm not saying get rid of the hour-long Punjabi kathas (which are necessary), but can you please do at least a 15-minute katha in English? Pleassseeeeeee? Plus, being bilingual would help knock down the barrier for Bhai Sahibs (which I notice are isolated to the Gurdwara because they cannot communicate with the community around them). 

Physical Fitness:

Now, Christianity only is better at Sikhi than this probably by 5%. And no, the basketball courts don't count. I'm talking about a weight room. Or a gatka room. A room all Sikhs can come to and work on their fitness. Sikhs eat a lot (which we aren't supposed to anyways according to Gurbani), which means we have a lot of calories to burn off. So get a treadmill set up or kettlebells or dumbells, or something. Have Gurbani playing in the background. Dasam Bani is especially great for this. 

So, yeah. I have a lot more that I could say but I'll leave it there. If you read to the end, as always, I thank you for that. I pray that I soon see a change in not only the Gurdwaras in Texas but in the entire US (excluding California and New York/New Jersey).

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa. Waheguru ji ki Fateh. 

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