Sikh Temples Emerge As A Lifeline For Flooded Areas Of The Himalayas


HIMACHAL PRADESH, India — In the devastating Himalayan floods in India’s Himachal Pradesh, Sikh temples have emerged as bastions of support and assistance for those affected by the calamity.

As nature unleashes its fury, these gurdwaras — places of assembly and worship for Sikhs — across regions hit by flooding have opened their doors, hearts and kitchens to provide essential services to the affected communities. The display of community spirit on display has been of vital assistance to flood victims and those stranded.

“The gurdwara’s ambulance patrol has become hope for those affected by the relentless floods,” said Gurudev Singh, the committee head of the temple. “We have been patrolling from July … when the floods first started, and we continue to provide services as there are continuous requirements needed.”

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The Himalayan region of India is grappling with a double disaster — torrential rains and rampant construction that are both contributing to a perilous situation. However, the recent and unusual surge in rainfall has exacerbated the danger. Landslides and flash floods have wreaked havoc, claiming the lives of many and submerging homes and structures.

The recent calamities have taken a heavy toll. According to officials, out of a total of 257 casualties, 66 lives were lost to the devastating landslides and flash floods. An additional 191 people lost their lives due to road accidents and other causes connected to the disaster. The situation remains dire as 32 people are still missing and a significant number, 290 people, have suffered injuries. Nearby Nepal and Pakistan have also faced significant damage.

The gurdwaras’ kitchen has been operating tirelessly, preparing meals three times a day “with unwavering dedication to ensuring that hunger doesn’t affect anyone during these times,” said Satveer Singh Khalsa, 30, one of the volunteers.

Additionally, the gurdwara has opened its doors, offering rooms to provide shelter for those in need. For Khalsa, engaging in activities like cleaning debris and offering relief and physical assistance is nothing extraordinary.

“This is a part of sewa (selfless service) and langar (community kitchen), deeply rooted in the Sikh faith,” he added.

He emphasized that the principles of sewa and langar have been actively practiced in this challenging situation as well.

“This demonstrates how the Sikh community’s values and traditions are not just confined to the gurdwara but extend to serving humanity in times of crisis,” he said.

Singh said his temple isn’t alone in these selfless acts of service. Many are actively providing relief and assistance in other locations, including places such as Bhuntar, Kullu, Kangra and Shimla.

“There were more than 1,000 people inside the gurdwara when the area started flooding,” he said.

Sunil Kumar, 40, who survived the floods, hails from Bengali Basti near Bhuli Bridge in Mandi. He said his home is “gone.”

“We are like nomads migrating,” he added, saying that his family, like many others, found refuge in the temple during their time of need and were subsequently relocated to a local marriage hall by authorities.

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