Sikhs or members of other religious communities in the United States of America (USA) and in Canada will no longer have to place orders for a 'swaroop' (copy) of the Guru Granth Sahib with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandik Committee (SGPC) at Amritsar, as it will be made available at the ‘International Sikh Centre’ (Sikh Mission) of the SGPC USA which will come up at Yuba City in the state of California.
The Sikh Centre, which is to come up on 13.5 acres of land, will have a Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan within its complex to provide the scripture to Sikh families or to members of other communities who wish to do 'parkash' of the scripture at their homes. Likewise, management committees of gurdwaras in the two countries too can get the scripture from Yuba City instead of waiting for it to arrive from Amritsar.
This important decision, to setup the Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan at the Sikh Centre was taken at the first meeting of the Board of Directors of the Centre held at Yuba City on Thursday. The board headed by SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar comprises of SGPC office bearers, including senior vice president Raghujit Singh Virk, general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, executive member Rajinder Singh Mehta and Paramjit Singh Saroya, additional secretary in the gurdwara body. US-based Sikh entrepreneur, Didar Singh Bains, who donated the land for the Centre, is also a member of the board which is expected to be expanded later with the induction of more members from the US and Canada.
The 'SGPC USA inc.' is an incorporated body registered by the state of California and it will manage the affairs of the Sikh Centre through the board of directors. Makkar and the other SGPC senior leaders are currently in Yuba City to discuss construction of the Centre.
SGPC additional secretary Daljit Singh Bedi, who was briefed by Makkar over telephone about the Centre, told HT here on Friday, "Initially we will transport 'swaroops' of the Guru Granth Sahib, published and printed by the SGPC in Amritsar to Yuba City and from there Sikhs can collect the scripture for their homes or for shrines. However later on, we may start printing and publishing the scripture at the Sikh Centre.
Other than providing 'swaroops' of the scripture, other religious and historical literature on Sikhs and Sikhism will also be made available at the Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan. This will include tracts (gutkas) of the scripture, which are used in homes for prayers.
The Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan will also house an institute for training preachers and 'granthis' as there is a shortage of trained staff at gurdwaras in North America. Regular 'gurmat courses' (religious courses) will be run at the Centre and teaching of Punjabi to Sikh children will be a priority.
The board of directors also decided that Charanjit Singh Bains, a US-based Sikh, will select the architectural design for the Sikh Centre. Jaspreet Singh, a lawyer, was appointed the legal advisor to the board.