By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Having taken off their shoes, washed their hands, and covered their heads, Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, State Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury), and State Rep. Kimberly Ferguson (R-1st Worcester) joined members of local communities and New England Sikh Study Circle (NESSC) as the new temple in Westborough was dedicated on Oct. 14. The Gurdwara Sahib is now the spiritual home to many Sikhs living in the Metrowest and outlying areas.
Both Baker and McGovern spoke in the prayer hall.
“More than anything, that First Amendment, that freedom to practice your faith, is fundamental to what it means to be part of the American experience,” Baker said. “And your particular faith as I understand it, sits comfortably with so many others that aspire to be about quality and about virtue and about community and about work and about faith and about a commitment to one another.”
Sikh (pronounced “sick”) is a monotheistic religion, which has always regarded men and woman as equals, although they sit separately during services.
Amandeep Singh, secretary of the NESSC — formed in 1968 — said, “It was very fulfilling and a dream come true to bring this to completion… It was incredible to have Governor Baker at our dedication.”
“Here in America all people are equal, the same as our overall faith, which is about equality. This is the land of opportunity – the best place to live to have freedom,” he added.
The 37 acres at 168 Flanders Rd., on which the temple is sited, were purchased by NESSC in 2011. At that time, NESSC was already outgrowing their temple in Milford.
The Gurdwada Sahib contains a prayer hall, library, 12 classrooms, and conference rooms. The custom-made gold dome and saffron-colored flag, with the Sikh symbol of Khanda, were made in India.
The facility is big enough to host 500, rotating through the space, for the “langer,” a community meal served after religious school and prayer services on Sundays, and Friday nights.
The congregation currently has 150 members.
Singh explained, “There are another 150 extended families who have are not Sikh, but have a connection to us. So together we are 250 to 300 families.”
Currently there are 95 children in the religious school, which is called the Khalsa School.
“We are all about giving back to the community. We are discussing plans for an interfaith Thanksgiving event,” Singh added. “We participated in Westborough’s 300th anniversary.”