On Sunday the 17th of May I paid a visit to the Sikh Sangat Gurdwara, Harley Grove, Bow, which recently was set fire to by ‘person or persons unknown’. In this column I will not discuss the possible motives behind this.
After getting up, taking a shower and doing my ‘nitnem’ I did some work related to ‘fbfe’, updated my weblog and added some pictures to my flickr account. Like I do every morning I had Panjabi style tea with cloves, cardamom and fennel and a Dutch style breakfast with different types of bread, peanut butter, marmalade and cheese.
I then went out to Elthorne (Hanwell) to deliver Lib Dem leaflets encouraging people to vote Lib Dems at the European election. We might be reasonably successful, as voters are less unhappy with our lot than with the Conservatives and New Labour. Our voters are also more motivated to vote in a European election, as Lib Dems do not suffer from Europhobia.
At about 13.00 I took a bus to Ealing Broadway and went from there by train and underground to Bow.
Sadh Sangat was having langar in the street in front of the Gurdwara and I was invited to take part. I was recognised by a Singh who studies at Walthamstow College, and talked to him and to another Singh who has a stall in the Roman Road street market.
After langar I helped with removing, cleaning and stacking the tables and chairs, which gave me the chance to have a good look at the damage done to the Gurdwara. The back of the building with the langar and the kitchen is intact, the front where the beautiful divan hall and the ‘sach khand’ were is in an awful state. The outer walls are standing but this part of the building is an empty shell with a caved in roof.
I enjoyed being with sangat, I liked the langar in the street and the divan in a tent on the green across the road from the Gurdwara, but seeing the damage done made me feel sad over the loss inflicted on the community and over the lost ‘birs’ of the Guru Granth Sahib.
This building symbolises the rich and diverse history of the area, first a church, then a synagogue and finally a Gurdwara. It should be restored to its original state, respecting the faith traditions that it housed. Whoever the arsonist was, whatever his motives, regardless whether he acted on his own or not, he should not be allowed to win.
We should all contribute to a restoration fund that has both local and outside Gursikhs as trustees, making sure that this monument for the rich social and religious history of East London is preserved.