Smethwick volunteers rewarded for their service

Volunteers at Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick have been recognised for their hard work in a special awards ceremony.

As part of celebrations to mark the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, 450 medals and 200 trophies were given out to Sevadaars (volunteers). Each Sevadaar was also given a siropa, a scarf or length of cloth bestowed as a mark of honour.

Another special ceremony recognised the exam success of students from the gurdwara’s Punjabi school, each child receiving a trophy, certificate and a book about Guru Nanak.

The gurdwara, the biggest in Europe, was established in 1958 and was the UK’s first dedicated Sikh place of worship. The current three-storey building dates from the late 1990s and covers an area of 70,000 square metres. Guru Nanak Gurdwara also recently became the first in the UK to install a parshada (a machine for rolling and cooking rotis and chapattis) to help meet demand at busy times, such as festivals and major events.

The gurdwara is keen to point out that this is definitely not a case of the machines taking over. “The Seva (service) that Sangat (worshippers) do is next to none and this machine will never be a replacement for their amazing selfless services,” says its Facebook page. With one of the largest congregations in the UK, its huge programme of worship, education and charity work relies on the tireless dedication of its volunteers.

Sevadaars usually give their time and effort with no expectation of reward or recognition, but the gurdwara’s committee members felt that the birthday celebrations were a good opportunity to show their gratitude to the unsung heroes of the local Sikh community.

To find out about events at the gurdwara, visit its Facebook page or follow its official Twitter account.