The Malay States Guides (M.S.G.) in Larut, Taiping (Town of Taiping in the District of Larut), consisting mainly of Sikhs, was established in 1896. They had a Gurdwara Sahib in their premises. However, it was difficult for the civilian Sikhs to freely participate in the M.S.G. Gurdwara Sahib's religious activities due to tight security. With the disbandment of the M.S.G. at the end of 1919, the first Police Gurdwara Sahib in Taiping was closed in early 1920.
On 5th September 1916, the Sikhs in Taiping, Larut established the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Larut, Taiping. The founder members of this Sabha were Subedar Pall Singh, Babu Kehar Singh, Bhai Pall Singh, Babu Narain Singh, Babu Harwanth Singh, Babu Santa Singh, Babu Harnam Singh, Babu Sempuran Singh, Dr. Dalip Singh, Bhai Sahib Bhai Gulab Singh, Bhai Wesawa Singh and Bhai Sunder Singh. The first task of this Sabha was to build a Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Taiping to serve the religious needs of the Sikh community. In this respect, the Management Committee made an application to the Government to allocate a piece of land to build a Sikh Gurdwara Sahib and school.
Vide State of Perak Government Gazette Notification Number 223 dated 18th January 1918, a piece of land under plan number 95-6 Lot 1326 having an area of 3 Roods 37 Poles in Upper Station Road, Taiping, was designated as a reserve for a Sikh Gurdwara Sahib and school. This was to be maintained by the Trustees of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Larut.
The foundation stone of the Gurdwara Sahib building was laid by Bhai Sahib Bhai Boodh Singh Village Mehesempur, Amritsar on 26th November 1920, on the occasion of the birthday of Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji. The cost of this single storey brick building amounted to Straits Settlements $13,205.85 out of which $3,280.10 was donated by the Government of the State of Perak. The British Resident of Perak, Sir William George Maxwell, played an important role in obtaining this donation for the Gurdwara Sahib building. The newly completed building was officially declared open in 1921. The Sikh community from the nearby areas attended the jormela, which was held to commemorate the occasion.
The first Granthi of this Sikh Gurdwara Sahib was Sant Baba Gulab Singh Ji of Village Langaeana, District Ferozpur who served here from 1920 until March 1932 when he passed away. Sant Ji was a very religious person who was very proficient in the Gurbani katha. Sant Ji was also a very humble man who personally took care of all visitors to the Gurdwara Sahib.
On 1st January 1928, the Khalsa School Taiping was established in the Gurdwara Sahib premises. It was a registered school under the control of the Gurdwara Sahib Sri Guru Singh Sabha Larut. Religious books were obtained from the Education Committee of the Chief Khalsa Diwan. Gurmukhi textbooks were acquired from the Punjab Textbook Society. Examinations were held annually and prizes were awarded to the best students on Speech Day. By the mid 1930's there were about 125 Sikh boys and girls studying in this school.
On 11th May 1937, during the coronation celebrations of King George VI of England, the Larut and Matang Sikh and Indian community held a procession in Taiping. The procession commenced at 6.30p.m. from the Gurdwara Sahib Taiping grounds, which were beautifully decorated and illuminated. The British Resident of Perak and a very large crowd witnessed this event. The spectacular show comprised of two decorated elephants, illuminated cars and lorries, horse shows, sword and torch displays, fancy lanterns and banners, Indian music bands, specially constructed and well decorated chariots bearing the portraits of the King and Queen. The prize for the best decorated car was awarded to Sardar K. Utam Singh who stood in his car dressed as John Bull and had beside him a boy dressed as Brittania.
The Gurdwara Sahib building of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Larut in Taiping, was used by the Sikh Sangat for nearly 50 years before being demolished in 1970.
Sant Baba Jawala Singh Ji of Bidor laid the foundation stone of the new double storey building on 10'h May 1970. The newly completed Gurdwara Sahib was officially declared open on Vesakhi Day 14th April 1971. The cost of this Gurdwara Sahib building was about RM132,000.00, of which RM20,000.00 was donated by the Government.
There are two rooms available in this Gurdwara Sahib, which may be used by Sikh visitors. Prior arrangements must be made with the President or Secretary to ensure that they are available.
There is also a very large library in the Gurdwara Sahib premises that houses many rare Sikh books by various well-known writers. The author spent nearly three hours going through the index to the books in the library.
There is an Assistant Registrar of Marriages in this Gurdwara Sahib, who officiates at Sikh marriages if called upon to do so. The actual marriage ceremony is conducted by the Granthi in accordance with Sikh religious rites.
The Management Committee comprises of the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and eight committee members. There are about 200 Sikh families residing around the Taiping area who participate in the religious activities held in this Gurdwara Sahib. There are presently about 70 Sikh students who attend Gurmukhi classes in the Gurdwara Sahib.
The weekly prayers are held on Sunday mornings from 9.00a.m to 11.00a.m. The Sangrand programme is held in the morning from 7.30a.m. to 8.30a.m. Other religious programmes are held as and when necessary at the request of the Sikh Sangat.
Sikh Gurudwaras in Malaysia&Singapore
Saran Singh Sidhu AMN,PNM,FRNS
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