Canadian Sikh Heritage | Dalip Singh Sidhu
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Dalip Singh Sidhu

Dalip Singh was born on 14 November, 1931 in Bahbal kalan District Faridkot. He attained his bachelor’s degree in Ayurvedic medicine. When Dalip Singh’s father in law passed away, he left a prosperous business behind which his mother in law then asked if he (Dalip Singh) could handle and manage. Dalip Singh agreed to take care of the business and thus came to Karnal, Haryana in 1954.

In the early 1960’s while he was living in Haryana, Dalip Singh came across an advertisement in the Ajit newspaper in Punjabi which was seeking management for the Victoria Topaz Street gurudwara in Canada. The advertisement requested a person to do sewa (selfless volunteering) in the gurdwara and also teach children. Dalip Singh always wanted to visit a foreign country and so he it was an easy decision for him to apply for the position. Out of five hundred three people who applied, three were selected; a professor from Phagwara, a professor from Delhi and third was Dalip Singh Sidhu. He was lucky to be selected from amongst them for a one year contract. The management wanted Dalip Singh to come as soon as possible but he was delayed because his passport was not ready. Thus, Dalip Singh on the advice of Victoria temple management met with the Minister for external affairs at Delhi. In this way, he was able to get his passport made within two-three hours.

Dalip Singh Sidhu came to Canada in May, 1966.  There were not many pathis (prayer readers) at that time. He remembers that Akhand paths (special occasion prayers) were divided amongst all the gurudwars.  Guru Nanak dev ji’s birthday was celebrated in Abbotsford gurudwara, Guru Gobind Singh ji’s birthday was celebrated in the 2nd Avenue gurdwara, Guru Teg Bahadur ji’s birthday was celebrated in New Westminster and Vaisakhi was celebrated in Victoria. Mahinder Kaur (Bosan) from Dolatpur brought Dalip Singh on a ferry to Abbotsford to celebrate Guru Nanak dev ji’s birthday.

Giani Sujan Singh, Giani Mani Singh, along with Chanan Singh were some of the sewadars (volunteers) who did sewa in Abbotsford temple. Whenever there was Akhand path in other temple or there was a wedding these priests would go to other temples on the weekend. As such, the Abbotsford gurudwara management faced some difficulty while these Granthis were gone. In 1967 Mota Singh Grewal brought Dalip Singh to the Abbotsford gurdwara for Gurpurab and asked him if he could stay permanently at the Abbotsford gurudwara. In July 1966 immigration announced that people who came to Canada before July could now apply for permanent residency. This opportunity allowed Dalip Singh to apply for his wife and three year old son to now migrate to Canada. Kuldeep Singh Bains helped him in doing all the paper work and Dalip Singh was granted immigration under the teacher’s category. By this time he had been accepted to work at a mill in Abbotsford.  Dalip Singh said that he would like to work at the mill but would do sewa at the temple for free. He worked in the mill from 1968 to 1989

Dalip Singh remembers one story during the wedding of Kher Singh’s daughter.  Kher Singh saw all the beds at the temple were very old at this point. He said he would donate new beds for the gurudwara.  When they got all the beds, Dalip Singh and Puran Singh went to a furniture store to get four 3 inch nuts for fixing the headboards. When they asked for the price of the nuts, the sales person told them they are 19 cents each. Puran Sigh thought that the price was high and they should check other places as well. They went to a different store and got to know that the price of each nut was 22 cents. Then Dalip Singh suggested to Puran Singh to buy the nuts for 22 cents, as they will waste gas going back to the first store. Then Puran Singh said “Gaini Ji the 3 cents which we will save are from Gurughar (guru’s house) and the gas, that is mine, I will pay for it.” Such thinking on part of the many sevadaars of the gurdwara is what helped to keep it thriving.

In the 1980’s a cyclone had hit Pakistan and Dalip Singh was visiting India during this time. Before going to India they wanted to visit the temple in New Westminster. The temple management asked Dalip Singh if Abbotsford gurudwara management could collect a fund to help people affected by the cyclone. They expected to raise only $150-$200 because the Sikh population was very less at that time. But when Dalip Singh announced about collecting the funds in the Abbotsford gurudwara, people donated money with a lot of enthusiasm. They collected $700-$800 and the New Westminster management was surprised and very happy with this great demonstration of generosity.

Even after moving to his new house, Dalip Singh continued to volunteer at the temple until 1983.  His successor Gurdev Singh Mastana was a singer, so Dalip Singh taught him to do path. After Dalip Singh, the other granthis of the Gur Sikh Temple were Giani Sucha Singh Grewal followed by Gaini Sarmak Singh and then Gaini Harkirat Singh.

Dalip Singh has 3 sons, two of whom were born in Canada. He now lives in Abbotsford with his family and continues to help the temple management in decision making.

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