Catholics, wearing head covering, and Sikhs mingle at the Gurdwara Silat Road Sikh Centre on July 20.

A recent visit to a Sikh centre proved to be an enlightening experience for some 40 Catholics.

“I now understand why there are suffixes to Sikh names [such as] Singh [which means lion] and Kaur [which means princess] and have a clearer understanding of the tenets of Sikhism,” said Ms Jeannette Tan from the Church of St Mary of the Angels.

“I felt the atmosphere of holiness when entering the sanctuary,” commented Ms Clara Nai, a parishioner of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The visitors were treated to a vegetarian meal during their visit to the Gurdwara Silat Road Sikh Centre on July 20 evening.

This “Sharing with Others” experience, held at the centre’s main hall or langgar, is one of the Sikh virtues.

The visitors, who all wore head coverings during the visit, then listened to an introductory talk on Sikhism.

“Sat Sri Akaal”, which means “God is Eternal”, was the greeting they heard at the start of the talk.

Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak, who was born in 1469 near Lahore, in Pakistan. Sikhs believe in One Supreme God and the religion emphasises service to humanity, and tolerance and brotherly love towards all.

The first group of Sikhs arrived in Singapore in 1850, and today the population in Singapore is about 15,000.

After a question-and-answer session, the visitors were shown the sanctuary or gurdwara and kept silence as the congregation chanted verses from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Book.

The visit was the latest in a series of visits to places of worship organised by the Archdiocesan Council for Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue (IRED). The programme aims to help Catholics appreciate other faith communities better.

By Djoni Sutanto

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