Gurdwara Sahib Blackburn is a religious place of worship open for visitors of all ethnic backgrounds. The temple is located in the eastern suburb of Blackburn, a 30-minute drive from the CBD.
Though the formation of this gurdwara – the first Sikh temple in Melbourne – dates backs to 1984, the move to the present location was made in 1993.
Sikh Guru Nanak Satsang Sabha (SGNSS), the formation committee of the temple, organises daily prayer rituals and kirtan sabha (psalm recitals) in the gurdwara. Regular programs are held on Wednesday evenings, Saturday mornings and Sunday mornings. Professional ragis or musicians conduct the devotional recitals within the gurdwara and homes (upon request).
Every year, SGNSS also organises celebratory events to mark Sikh and Punjabi festivals like Baisakhi (ancient harvest festival of Punjab) and Guruparbs (commemorations of the Sikh gurus).
The visitors are expected to conform to a few customs and rules whilst inside the gurdwara. They must remove their shoes and cover their heads with a handkerchief or a scarf (available at the entrance) before entering the main chamber. There's a spacious foyer with shoe racks and a hand basin for the convenience of the visitants.
Guru Granth Sahib, the most significant holy scripture of the Sikhs, forms the focal point of the gurdwara and is mounted on the main takht or throne under a canopy. A Granthi or priest sits on the same pulpit and recites hymns from the Holy Book.
The devotees respectfully walk towards the takht and bow their heads in a silent prayer. The congregation sits cross-legged on the carpeted area around the throne as the hall echoes of nothing but devotional euphony. Even if the language eludes you, it will be a spiritually uplifting experience to sit there and take in the reverent ambience. Devotees are offered Karah Parshad (pudding made with flour and clarified butter) as a blessing of God.
Defying the old adage "there ain't such a thing as a free lunch", Sikh gurdwaras across the world organise weekly 'langar' or free kitchen. Following this noble tradition, Gurdwara Sahib Blackburn offers free food to all and sundry thrice a week (Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday). The food is prepared fresh in the temple kitchen by volunteers and served by many more. It's a binding moment as the whole community sits in rows and enjoys simple, vegetarian food.
Visitors can offer donations online or in the box within the hall. Traditional Sikh weddings can be organised at the gurdwara. Contact SGNSS for bookings and further information.
Though the gurdwara receives visitors all week, it is notably crowded on Sundays. It is open from 6am to 9pm everyday except Wednesday when it remains open till 10pm.