15 Years in the Making – San Jose Gurudwara Celebrates a Very Grand Opening
Fifteen years in the planning, 110,000 square feet on 40 acres of land- The grand opening of the largest gurudwara in North America, commemorated their opening in honor of Vaisakhi, the origin of the Khalsa nation, with week-long celebrations for the long awaited opening of the main hall of the newly expanded San Jose gurudwara.
Governor Jerry Brown along with other political and religious leaders from the community were among the 10,000 strong congregation that came from all over California to celebrate the grand opening and completion of the second and final phase of the gurudwara building on April 10.
The culmination of the $20-million expansion earned it the distinction of being the largest gurudwara in the U.S. and the biggest gurudwara outside India.
Governor Brown made a special appearance on his birthday and gave a gracious speech where he thanked the Sikh Community for its support saying “It is an honor to be in this magnificent temple….you in the Sikh Community are very important to our country, to California.” Brown also remembered the two elderly Sikh men of Elk Grove, CA that were shot down and killed in an alleged hate crime earlier this year and vowed to seek justice.
Other important government officials signaled this milestone for the Bay Area Sikh community including Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Assembly members Jerry Hill and Paul Fong, City Councilmember’s Xavier Campos, Kansen Chu, Rose Herrera, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Milipitas Mayor Jose Esteves.
Religious leaders from different faiths: Christianity, Judaism, Jainism, Islam, and Baha’i Faith congratulated and blessed the Sikh community on the inauguration. As councilmember Herrera said, “it is not just about larger capacity, it’s about the larger capacity to serve the community. Bhupinder Bob Dhillon, who oversaw the completion of the gurudwara’s construction, agreed “With the expansion we will not only meet the needs of the Sikh community but of the larger interfaith community as well. Soon the gurudwara will start programs for seniors, youth, children and tackle issues that face the community.”
The new additions to the gurudwara include a darbar hall that can hold over 2,500 sangat members, colossal kitchen and langar hall, campus filled with 12 classrooms for over 600 children that attend the weekly Sunday Khalsa school, and 11 apartments for gurudwara sevadors and visitors. The entire campus is landscaped with fresh green grass, walls are painted in golden saffron, and the rooftops with majestic domes, reminiscent of temples in Punjab, India.
The day began with the vibrant and cheerful colors abounding all around as khalsa students led the morning parade and nagar kirtan. Gatka students showcased their martial arts talents to the hundreds that gathered outside early that morning. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book for the Sikhs, was beautifully displayed upon a float while a helicopter swarmed over the crowd dropping flower petals upon the occasion among melodious chants from the congregation singing “Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji”. The hour-long procession concluded with transporting Sri Guru Granth Sahib to the new darbar hall.
For several hours during the afternoon, hundreds of Sikh men and women patiently waited in a long line to have the first look, bow and pray in the vast and newly completed prayer hall before the Sri Guru Granth Sahib to honor this grand occasion. From there, thousands moved on to the eco-friendly vegetarian kitchen, or langar hall, where a well-organized army of volunteers served breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the day to anyone who walked through the doors with supplies enough to feed a crowd estimated at over 10,000 people that day.
Several renowned Ragi jathas from Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar and Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, New Delhi graced the occasion. Renowned katha vachaks and dhadi jathas also participated in special diwans held throughout the month.
Limited edition stamps were released by the Khalsa School of San Jose, in conjunction with the USPS. To celebrate the Grand Opening of San Jose Gurdwara Sahib, phase II.
History of San Jose Gurudwara
The gurudwara was founded in the 1984 and with an expanding South Bay Sikh community, it presented an urgent need to form a local gurudwara for the congregation to attend. After many years of obstacles and determining the necessary land requirements for a congregation that was rapidly growing, the vision became a reality when the gurudwara committee settled on the majestic forty acres nestled in the Evergreen Hills of San Jose. The gurudwara committee purchased the land for $2.2 million. Due to funding, the committee decided to split the construction into two phases. The first phase began construction in 1999 and was completed in August 2004 with the entire infrastructure for 12 million dollars, and the second phase began in October 2007 that has just been completed in April 2011 for a cost of 20 million.
This makes it the largest Sikh gurudwara outside of India and one of the most beautiful properties boasting panoramic views of the entire Bay and city lights at night. The gurudwara is located at 3636 Murillo Avenue, San Jose, CA 95148 and daily programs and information on the gurudwara can be found at www.sikhgurudwarasj.org/ Ongoing celebrations including Sikh worship services and kirtan are to be held the entire month of April to commemorate this occasion.
Photography Courtesy of www.meekastudio.com