The first Gurdwara Sahib in Jesselton (renamed Kota Kinabalu in 1963) existed in the compound of the Government Armed Constabulary Headquarters, approximately 500 yards from the site of the present Gurdwara Sahib building. In 1924, the Police Commandant made a request to the Sikhs to relocate their Gurdwara Sahib to another site due to security reasons.
The present site, which is 0.74 acres in size, was obtained in 1924. The Sikh community set up a Building Committee under the joint chairmanship of Babu T.V. Durai and Subedar Mangal Singh Kalsi. Babu Durai from the Survey Department Jesselton was the architect of the new Gurdwara Sahib building. Subedar Mangal Singh, who rose to become the first Sikh Subedar of the British North Borneo (B.N.B.) Company's Government Armed Constabulary, played a leading role in obtaining donations for the new Gurdwara Sahib building. The Holy Book, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, was ceremoniously placed in the newly completed Gurdwara Sahib at the end of 1924. There was no regular Granthi at that time. However, knowledgeable Sikhs used to take turns and perform the duties of a Granthi.
The first Management Committee of this Gurdwara Sahib was elected in 1931. Subedar Khazan Singh, the third Sikh policeman to be promoted to this high post in the B.N.B. Company's Government Armed Constabulary, was appointed President. Datuk Gurbaksh Singh Kler, a founder member, was elected Honorary Secretary. Bhai Kahan Singh, a Khalsa High School graduate from Amritsar, arrived in Jesselton in 1931. He was appointed as the first professional Granthi at the Gurdwara Sahib Jesselton, which was then known as the Central Sikh Temple. Bhai Kahan Singh served as a Granthi in this Gurdwara Sahib for many years.
There were few Sikh ladies of marriageable age in those early days in British North Borneo. As a result, inter-racial marriages between the Sikh men and women of other races were sometimes performed in the Gurdwara Sahib. However, these ladies were required to partake the holy Amrit and be baptised into the Sikh faith as well as adopt a Sikh name, prior to their marriage.
This Gurdwara Sahib was extensively repaired and extended between 1997 and 1998. Despite the renovation, the main structure of the Gurdwara Sahib had been preserved to retain its original design. The Sabah State Government donated towards of the cost of renovation.
The Kota Kinabalu Singh Sabha was founded in 1961 by Sardar Sujan Singh Kalsi who was elected its first founder President. This Sabha has its office in the Gurdwara Sahib premises.
In 1963, the town of Jesselton was renamed Kota Kinabalu by the Government. Hence forth, this Gurdwara Sahib came to be known as Gurdwara Sahib Kota Kinabalu.
The Chief Minister of Sabah, Y.B. Datuk Yong Teck Lee officially declared the newly extended and renovated Gurdwara Sahib open on 18th January 1998.
The present Management Committee comprises of the President, Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, their assistants and seven committee members. The Trustees of this Gurdwara Sahib are elected by the Sikh Sangat of this Gurdwara Sahib.
There is a Sikh Assistant Registrar of Marriages in this Gurdwara Sahib who officiates at marriage ceremonies when called upon to do so. The actual marriage ceremony is conducted by the Granthi in accordance with Sikh rites.
There are about 100 Sikh families in Kota Kinabalu and its surrounding areas who participate in the religious activities in this Gurdwara Sahib. There are presently about ten Sikh students who attend Gurmukhi classes once a week on Sundays.
The weekly prayers are held on Sunday mornings from 10.00a.m. to 12.30p.m. Other religious programmes are held as and when required by the Sikh Sangat.
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Saran Singh Sidhu AMN,PNM,FRNS
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