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Monday, September 6, 1999

A gurudwara named Hollywood

Radhika Butala  
Situated in the peaceful cantonment area, close to the racecourse, this gurudwara is the place of worship of around 200 sikhs daily. Being a minority, more so in the city of Pune, they have formed their own committee to look after this gurudwara and continue the age-old customs of sikhism.

"It gets it's name from an amusement park known as the Hollywood club", says manager, Thakarsingh. Going back to the British time, this club was used as an entertainment centre for the army. At that time there was just one hall and the rest was open area." A sardarji noticed this place and requested the army if the place could be used as a gurudwara" adds Thakarsingh, 80, while opening a file to check on the date the sikhs actually purchased the land from the Government.

People of all communities from the army used to pray here and slowly but surely it developed into a full fledged gurudwara, which was named Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar. As one walks inside, one will realise the non formal atmosphere. "Sasriyakal" - homely greetings can be heard everywhere. The Gurudwara is managed by the Pune Sikh Association Trust, Camp. Run wholly on donations, the gurudwara has expanded from one hall to a whole community living, providing necessities like education and medical services. At nominal rates, these services are open to all. In fact, the gurudwara is open to all irrespective of caste, class, creed and sex.

A simple place with no great designing at all, it is calm and peaceful, which is transformed into a hub during festivals. The gurudwara is lit up and decorated with flowers during occasions when around 7,000 to 10,000 sikhs gather in this place of worship. The sikh community of this area also carry out processions during this time.

Festivals like Gurupurams which is the birth of their 10 gurus and Baisakhi which is their new year is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The death and birth of the first guru, Guru Nanak and the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh are celebrated at a larger scale. Akhandpath is performed, during which the Granth Saheb, their sacred book, is read out for 48 hours continuously without a pause. Kirtan follows which is performed on occasions such as birth, death and marriage also. Like all gurudwaras this one too has a common kitchen called Langar. Through this they prepare food for everybody and anybody. On a daily basis they cater to guests but on Sundays and Thursdays they cater to a larger number of people.Almost the whole community come on these days as they are holidays for most in this area. Everybody eat together.

Though the Hollywood Gurudwara, as it is popularly known, is managed voluntarily by the sikh community they have a regular staff. Headed by the manager, the office deals with the maintenance as well as donations apart from other formalities like organising the necessary activities during festivals and providing marriage and death certificates within the community. A very peculiar sight, the Shri Mahsoba Mandir is adjacent to the gurudwara. A beautiful sight of Hindus and Sikhs together. Amidst the greenery of the Bogra Mini bird habitat around, one can feel total peace of mind in this area.

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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