Southall's Gurdwara remaining vigilant while staying open

The 19th century historian Rattan Singh Bhangu described Nihangs as “unaffected by pain or comfort”, “given to meditatio...

Places of worship can be crucial in keeping London communities together during a crisis.

But it's proving a tough task at the moment. Although the Government has allowed places of worship to remain open in lockdown 3, they still have to follow restrictions that make worship and community activities very difficult.

They are now also facing demands from local authorities to close to help prevent the spread of the virus.

But so far Southall’s largest Gurdawara, Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, is resisting calls to close completely...

...He said since the government guidance was released the Gurdwara had gone “above and beyond” in working to keep the site safe, including by hiring a virologist to help give specific advice and flag risks.

Sikhs attending the Gurdwara were previously allowed to spend hours worshipping, but now individuals can only come “for a few minutes to bow and leave”...

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...Mr Gill added that those few people still coming to worship are coming to the Gurdwara for the food collection service outside of the building so it “doesn’t make any sense” to stop the prayer aspect to their visit.

He added: “I still feel safer going to my Gurdwara than my Costco. We have all the PPE in place, since March we have had three contacts from Track and Trace...

“It’s pretty low risk we don't see any meaningful contact of people.”

Through the food support the organisation carries out, volunteers were dishing out 3,000 meals a day before the third lockdown, with around 400 to 500 deliveries to people in the local community.

“Every time we saw a national lockdown we also saw a spike in the most vulnerable, that is only going to go up,” Mr Gill added...

...He said the organisation is hesitant to take away their community’s “lifeline” through the toughest time when people have lost their jobs and loved ones.

“It’s small food for the soul they need to’s a little bit of hope they have got in their days right now.”...

...He added: “Given this very worrying situation and the urgent need to reduce infection rates and protect the NHS, I am urging all places of worship to voluntarily agree to go beyond the legal restrictions imposed by the Government.

“Acts of communal worship remain legal, but I am asking that Ealing’s places of worship make the voluntary step to go further and close for communal worship and individual prayer.”

The borough boss however encouraged sites to remain open to continue their roles helping the community such as by running food banks or soup kitchens.

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