Photo courtesy of Aman Bhimla via Google.
Toronto, Jan 20 (IANS) An old church has been transformed into a Sikh place of worship -- the first in Canada's Red Deer city after requests from the local Sikh community since 2005.
The Cornerstone Gospel Chapel at 5911 63rd Street is now Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, and will open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
It will serve around 150 families, 250 international students and temporary foreign workers from India, CBC News reported.
"The community is growing every day. So many people are moving here from B.C., Calgary and Ontario," Nishan Singh Sandhu, the gurdwara's president, told CBC News.
"It's very important, otherwise we don't have a place to get together. We struggled for the last 20 years to build a gurdwara," said Sandhu.
The community received donations from neighbouring Sikh communities in Calgary, Edmonton and Surrey, British Columbia, along with private donations to the tune of $450,000, which allowed them to buy the building with no mortgage.
The gurdwara, which opened last month, includes a main floor with a large basement area and kitchen.
The centre's kitchen provides free vegetarian meals ('langar') to visitors and anyone who needs it.
"People don't know about the turban. People don't know about Sikhism. Now, at least they know who we are," Gurcharan Singh Gill, the gurdwara's vice-president, told CBC News.
Gill told the news channel that the community hopes to organise a 'Nagar Kirtan' parade this year and grow the community and its presence in the city.
The community members are planning a kitchen upgrade, construction of a perimeter fence, and installation of the Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib, according to the report.
The Sikh community took over the building last month after the Red Deer County in Alberta province approved requests for a gurdwara in August last year.
Previously, Sikh families gathered once a month at the Bower Community Centre for prayers before the building purchase.