Mission to build Sikh temple

Among those pushing for a Sikh temple in Queenstown are, from left, local Sikhs Surinder Singh,...
Among those pushing for a Sikh temple in Queenstown are, from left, local Sikhs Surinder Singh, Sukhwinder Singh and Ramandeep Singh.
A group of Queenstown Sikhs is determined to build a Sikh temple which they say will benefit the whole community.

Members of Sikh committee, Guru Nanak Darbar Queenstown, say there are about 400 Sikhs in town, and 100 to 150 families, who’d go to the temple for prayers.

Starting next month, they’ll use a house in Hanley’s Farm as a temporary temple till one’s built.

Ahead of that, an essential item for a temple — a Sikh holy book or Guru Granth Sahib — is arriving from India.

Committee member Ramandeep Singh says some local Sikhs have already moved to Auckland or Christchurch because there’s nowhere they can go to pray.

Because there’s no Sikh temple south of Christchurch, one in Queenstown would be popular with Sikhs across the southern region, he notes.

It’d also be a popular wedding venue, benefiting Queenstown’s economy, too, Surinder Singh says.

"We’re getting phone calls from Australians, the Sikh people, they’d love to come here for a wedding, but we don’t have a temple."

Committee members say another benefit is having somewhere Sikh "Kiwi Indian" children can go to learn Punjabi, so they can converse with their grandparents when visiting them in India, or vice versa.

The facility would need a substantial kitchen to feed 200 to 300 people, and a couple of rooms for visiting Sikh dignitaries to stay overnight, if necessary.

Sukhwinder Singh says they’d happily help out the whole community in an emergency.

The main Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, deliberately has four doors to represent the inclusiveness of Sikhism, committee members point out.

They say they’re keen to lease council land in or near Arrowtown, ideally, as it’s closer to Cromwell and Wānaka than Queenstown.

They’d tap the community for funding to build a temple, but also expect support from other Sikh communities in New Zealand.