Apart from consuming some of the best fried food ever, this past week, I was able to get some insight into the very small Sikh community residing the New Orleans area.
There is only one gurdwara. Individuals come from Baton Rouge – almost a 2 hour drive – and beyond to convene with their Sangat on Sundays or special occasions. And even then, only about 120 people come. It’s a small community. Everyone knows everyone, because you have to. Because community is important no matter where you go. The gurdwara, like many others around the US, started as divaans held once a month at different households. In time, the sangat was able to gather enough money to invest in a property for the gurdwara.
The need and desire of Sikhs – or perhaps any religious community – to congregate is real, small or large town. The gurdwara is a place of common ground. It’s a stepping stone to feeling at home in foreign land.
Now, first and second generation Sikhs are feeling disconnected to the Gurdwara. Is it because our need to connect with sangat has diminished? Is Gurdwara only about sangat? In New Orleans, many of the Sikhs community members only see other Sikhs on Sundays. That’s justdemographic fact of the area. In places like Richmond Hill, NY or Fresno, CA, gurdwara is not the only place Sikhs see other Sikhs. What purpose does Gurdwara serve in such areas beyond that of social gathering?
New Orleans Gurdwara