Sikh Gurdwaras feature a mixture of Mughal and Rajput architecture. There are over 100 Malaysian Sikh temples, or Gurdwara Sahib, with around 40 in Perak state alone where a large proportion of the Sikh population resides.
Approximately 100,000 Sikhs live in Malaysia. Many Sikhs were brought over to Malaya from India during the British colonial period to serve as policemen, soldiers and security guards. Subsequent generations have prospered and thanks to an emphasis on education, strong family bonds and communal support, Sikhs are now found in all walks of life and in many senior professional positions throughout Malaysia.Here’s a selection of six out of the 100 plus Gurdwara Sahib:
Gurdwara Sahib, Johor Bahru
Sikhs settled in the state of Johor in the late nineteenth century, mostly employed in the Police force or as part of the Johor Sultan’s company of guards. The present site was gazetted as temple reserve land in 1921 upon which the Sikhs constructed their first Gurdwara. This temple was not used during the Second World War as the Sikhs from Johor Bahru and Singapore were forced to flee to nearby towns.
In 1957 the second Gurdwara building was constructed at a cost of about RM45,000. This was a two storey concrete building. By the 1980s, it became necessary to construct a new larger Gurdwara Sahib building to cater for the growing Sikh population. The present Gurdwara Sahib was opened in 1992. Sikhs cover their head as a mark of respect while in the Gurdwara.
Gurdwara Sahib, Kuala Pilah
This temple carries the date 1937 above its entrance. Like many other Sikh temples in Malaysia, it was set up mainly for the use of Sikh policemen and their families, of which there were some 19 recorded in Kuala Pilah during the 1930s. Non-Sikhs are always welcome to a free vegetarian meal in any Gurdwara worldwide.
Gurdwara Sahib, Kuching
This beautiful Sikh temple was opened in 1982. Sikhs were introduced into Kuching during the colonial era when most served in traditional occupations such as policemen, watchmen or prison wardens. The dome in the centre allows natural sunlight into the hall and saves energy.
Gurdwara Sahib, Labuan
Sikhs have been living in Labuan since the 1860s. Many were originally employed in the coal mines and the police force.
Later generations have been successful in various fields and the extravagant appearance of the Gurdwara evidences the prosperity of the Sikh community in Labuan. The meaning of the word Gurdwara is ‘the residence of the Guru’.
Gurdwara Sahib, Pusing
In Perak, the Sikhs mainly worked as tin mine security guards, general labourers and bullock cart drivers. Judging by the prosperous appearance of this temple, the younger generation have moved on to better paying occupations.
The prayer hall is the main feature of every Gurdwara.Gurdwara Sahib, Rawang
This temple is located next to the railway station. Its address “Rawang Tin Fields” indicates what the economic activity in this area previously was. The original temple was set up in 1938 but the current expanded and upgraded building dates from the 1970s.