Dhaka, Sep.5 : While one can find Gurudwarars or Sikh shrines, in almost every part of the world, the Gurudwara Nanak Shahi in Bangaladesh's national capital holds a great significance among visitors here.
Described to be the largest of the seven well-known Gurdwaras in the Bangladesh, Gurdwara Nanak Shahi enjoys great historic significance as it commemorates the visit of first Sikh Guru Nanak Dev to Dhaka.
It is said in circa 1506-1507, while being on his way to further East, Sikhs' Guru Nanak Dev had visited this place. However, the Gurdwara was built three centuries later in 1830.
Gurudwara Nanak Shahi is today known for promoting the message of one god and eternal peace and draws people from all religions while promoting brotherhood.
The religious minded come to this Gurudwara and offer prayers regardless of faith, caste or culture.
The day begins with the holy recital from the Guru Granth Sahib at the Gurudwara. And, weekly prayer assembly and Kirtan are organized every Friday, where a large number of devotees from different religions gather and offer prayers.
Bhai Pyara Singh, the priest of Nanak Shahi Gurudwara in Dhaka, says: "The Gurudwara Nanak Shahi is a 500-year-old religious place. The first Sikh Guru, Nanak Dev Maharaj visited this place centuries ago. Since then this gurudwara is promoting tenets of Sikhism. We welcome people of all religions be it a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain or Buddhist. We all sit together and pray to God."
Nanak Shahi holds great importance for people of Sikh community residing in the country. Its historic and religious importance outside India is second perhaps only to the Gurdwaras of Nanakana Sahib and Panja Sahib in Pakistan. Krithika Bhushan, one devotee, said: " For the past 10-12 years we have been coming here regularly every Friday. This way we not only get to pay regards to God but also get to learn a lot of other things."
Narayan Haridas, another devotee, "There is no restriction on coming here; it is free for all religions. I am asking Bangladeshi Hindus, Muslims, everybody to join and listen to the message of peace."
Central to the practice of all gurudwaras, Nanak Shahi promotes the concept of community kitchen or the 'Langar'.
On every Friday after the prayer assembly, food is cooked and served to people.
Religious centers like Nanak Shahi Gurudwara gives Sikhs living in Bangladesh a feeling of enjoying home away from home. By Rafiqur Rehman