1410 Horsehills Road NW, Edmonton
The Nanaksar Gurdwara Gursikh Temple is more than just a “Little Gurdwara on the Prairie.” At 30,000 square feet, it is the largest Gurdwara (‘Gateway to the Guru’, or temple) in Alberta, and after seven years of construction, it is not finished yet.
Armed with a long-term vision, members of the Sikh community purchased 90 acres of land in the Horse Hill region north of Anthony Henday Drive and adjacent to Manning Drive in 1989. Twenty acres were set aside for the temple complex. A separate building houses farming and agricultural equipment.
The Gurdwara opened in 1996 and each Sunday, approximately 300-400 people come to worship on a regular basis. During the full moon more than 1,000 people assemble to mark the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first of Sikhism’s Ten Gurus, who was born during the lunar phenomenon on November 6, 1469. The Gurdwara serves an overall community of more than 12,000 people.
During the week, at least two priests study and read from the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism’s main religious text beginning at 4:00 am each day. Since 2007, the Gurmukhi School Nanaksar teaches students Gurmukhi (script), Kirtan (chants) and Gurmat (the principles of Sikhism).
Food has a central place in Sikh culture. The main feature of the Gurdwara is the Langar hall, the 10,000 square foot dining hall where vegetarian food is prepared and served each day. At a time when dining practises were marked by cultural divisions between people, Guru Nanak declared that food should be free to all, and that all should dine together, irrespective of religion or caste. Thus the Langar’s significant kitchen, with its vast ovens, and the overwhelming sense that when you are here, you must break bread and eat.
While the surrounding area will eventually be developed as a residential subdivision, the Gurdwara community recognized the farmland’s potential. 70 acres have been set aside to grow wheat and canola, reflecting the rich agricultural traditions of the Punjab region in South Asia. Volunteers and students from across Canada and as far away as the UK and India work on the farm in the summer, with the proceeds supporting the Gurdwara.
- Research courtesy of Sam Singh (@SinghingSam)