World Sikh Organization of Switzerland
P.O. Box 53
3015 Bern, Switzerland
Tel: (037) 36 2510
Gurdwara Singh Sabha
4914, Roggwil (BE),
(+41) 62 929 3499
Gurudwara Sahib Switzerland
Contact:Sikh Stiftung Schweiz
Langethall, Switzerland - Hundreds of Sikhs participated in a religious procession at the city of Langenthal in Switzerland to mark the opening of a Sikh shrine yesterday.
Devotees said the shrine or 'Gurdwara Sahib' was the result of a decade-long effort, claiming that it was the first shrine to be built in the traditional way in the country. Earlier, the Swiss Sikhs carried out their religious programmes in rented accommodations.
"We had been making efforts and preparations for the past ten years and this is the first time, I think in the entire Europe, that the Gurudwara has been constructed in a traditional way," said Ranjit Singh, a devotee.
The local Swiss population has also supported the event. "It's a very happy day for the Sikh community in Switzerland. This being the first centre you open - the whole Protestant church that I represent is very happy with you," said Markus Sahli, one of the leaders of the Protestant Church Federation.
The Sikhs of Switzerland started the project in 1996 when they applied for permission to start construction of the Gurdwara Sahib. The process of seeking permission took nearly two years.
The foundation stone was laid on January 11, 2001, and construction at the site began in October 2002.
Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha
(+41) 62 291 3298
A former workshop for car body work repair, which is located in an industrial area outside the village of Daeniken, had been turned into a gurdwara in 2002.
The plate at the side of the building with the inscription "Gurudwara Sahib Sikh Gemeinde Schweiz" (Honoured gurdwara Sikh Community Switzerland) points to the religious function of the building. In late 2004, about 500 Sikhs lived in Switzerland though the number had been comparatively high with some 3,000 Sikh asylum seekers during the mid-1980s. Despite the relatively small number, two separate Sikh associations exist since 2002. The Sikh Centre Switzerland laid the foundation stones for a purpose-built gurdwara in Langenthal, a village not far away from Daeniken, in October 2002.