Frequently Asked Questions

How do you manage a Gurdwara without a Management Committee?

Did you know that the “traditional” Gurdwara management structure that we have been accustomed to, was actually introduced during the British Empire? The Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 was a piece of legislation in British India which legally defined Sikh identity and brought Sikh Gurdwaras under the control of an elected body of orthodox Sikhs. In doing so, the “management committee” was established.

This was almost 100 years ago!

One of our core founding principles is to realign the management of the Gurdwara Sahib, to before the introduction of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, to benefit the Sangat and the long term success of the Gurdwara Sahib.

Therefore, operations of the Gurdwara Sahib are managed by a team of Sevadaar (unpaid volunteers). There is no President or Mukh Sevadaar (head volunteer) within this team. There are also no titles or hierarchical management structure. The overall governance structure of the Gurdwara is represented by three teams:

  1. Sevadaar Team – a core operational team responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Gurdwara Sahib.
  2. Trustee Team – elected by the Sangat to ensure the Gurdwara Sahib is managed as per the constitution, and are responsible for reporting and compliance obligations.
  3. Strategy Team – A subset of the Sevadaar and Trustee Team, responsible for defining and monitoring strategic goals.
Who owns the Gurdwara Sahib?

Strangely, we do get asked this question quite often.

In spirit and faith, the Gurdwara Sahib belongs to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji – the Eternal Enlightener of the Sikhs.

Legally, the Gurdwara Sahib is a public concern, registered as a Charity in England and Wales under Charity No. 1045088 and belongs to the community.

Sikhs (and even non-Sikhs) donate money and time. It’s with this spirit of devotion and love, that the Gurdwara Sahib is able to support the community through a commitment to Selfless Service (Sewa).

Financial donations are recorded weekly by the Finance Sevadar, updated monthly on the Notice Board, and audited annually by Chartered Accountants.

Every penny is used to further our charitable objectives. Volunteers do not receive any financial benefit (Trustees, Sevadaar, or Strategy Team Members).

Where are the names and photos of the Sevadaar Team / Managing Committee?

“May the Sikh Panth prosper. May I wither away.”

A commitment to supporting the Gurdwara Sahib (in the capacity of either a Trustee, Sevadaar or Strategy Team Member) is an opportunity to ‘lose the ego’. In fact – the same principle applies to any member of the Sangat who is committed to Seva in any capacity.

Therefore our team stay as low-key as possible.

Each volunteer has a defined Sevadaar role – and the appropriate team members manage any contact from internal or external stakeholders.

Without competition for titles (President/Pardhaan) we can work as a collective through an unwavering commitment to support humanity and our local community.

What is your approach to diversity (age, gender) within the leadership teams?

We recognise the need – not just for succession planning – but the value that a younger generation of leadership can bring to the strategic goals and daily operations of the Gurdwara Sahib. We have therefore adopted within our constitution the need for 50% of our Sevadaar team to be under 50 years of age. We also ensure – as per our constitution – that a minimum of 20% of our Sevadaar and Trustee team are female.

The core values of every member of our leadership team is also strongly aligned to the need for youth and gender representation. Female leadership within Gurdwara’s has generally been low and often non-existent. We recognise the need as per our history, of the strong women that have protected and represented the Khalsa. Therefore as a governing principle, the role of women within the Gurdwara Sahib is elevated, protected and encouraged.

Do you have a provision for Wheelchair users going into the Darbar Sahib?

Yes absolutely, we have ample provisions to ensure Wheelchair users have a comfortable visit to the Gurdwara Sahib. There is a lift up to the 1st and 2nd floors, and all door entry’s throughout the Gurdwara have been widened. We also have ample table facilities in the Langar Hall, with sufficient space for manoeuvrability. The only request we have, is that the wheels of the wheelchair are cleaned to maintain the sanctity of the Darbar Sahib.

I am a “non-Sikh” can I visit the Gurdwara?

Absolutely – the door to the Guru (The Gurdwara) is open to all regardless of race, religion, status, caste, background or social status. The only request we have is that the sanctity of the Gurdwara Sahib must be maintained at all times. Therefore the consumption of alcohol, meat/egg/fish products and tobacco are strictly prohibited at the Gurdwara Sahib and that you are not under the influence of any of these products before your visit to the Gurdwara Sahib.

I represent a Charity or Community Interest Group interested in delivering our services from within the Gurdwara – is this something the Gurdwara can help with?

Absolutely! Last year we hosted the Christmas Smile project, which supports underprivileged families within Telford with Christmas Gifts. We are fortunate enough to host meeting rooms, learning spaces, studio spaces and even a 5,000 sq. ft. multi-use space for this exact purpose. Depending on availability and how the Gurdwara can support your Charity or Community Interest Group, then please contact us to find out more.

What is the appropriate dress code to visit the Gurdwara?

To be in the presence of Guru Ji, is to be in the ‘Court of our Guru’. If clothing is generally unsuitable for a court of law, then it’s also unlikely to be suitable for the Guru’s Court. When attending the Darbar Sahib please consider not wearing the following:

  • Shorts (incl. three-quarter length)
  • Hats or Caps – Instead wear a Dastar (Turban) or a free Rumaal/Chunni
  • Skirts
  • Clothing with a Low Neckline/Low Backline
  • Sleeveless Clothing
  • Clothes Promoting Alcohol/Drugs or Profanity

Finally, no tummy’s on show (especially for the uncle’s). We don’t know what we don’t know. This is a learning curve for everyone. Our key ask, is to work together to maintain the sanctity of our Gurdwara so everyone feels comfortable and can focus on prayer, meditation and Sewa.

I’m having a wedding at the Gurdwara – what are the guidelines for dress code?

As per the guidelines issued by The Akal Takhat it is recommended that brides opt for a ‘salwar-kameez and chunni’ instead of heavy lehengae

It has been observed that brides who have previously opted for wearing heavy lehengae are often unable to sit down, stand up or respectfully pay their respects to Guru Ji during the ceremony.

In addition the headscarf (chunni) should be pinned and placed on the brides head (near the forehead, not the neck) throughout the duration of the ceremony. As per the standard decorum expected in Guru Ji’s Darbar, low necklines/backlines should be avoided and midriffs (tummy’s) fully covered. Arms should be covered at a minimum up to elbow length.

Grooms should wear a Dastar (Turban) and in general; expectations for all guests is to dress within the same modesty guidelines as that of the Bride.

Finally, before the Groom enters the Darbar Sahib – any Kalgi, Plume or Sehra (viel) must be removed from his Dastar (Turban) and respectfully handed to a member of the Grooms family. In the Guru’s Court – Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji) is the true Kalgidhar – wearer of the plume.

I’m having a wedding at the Gurdwara – what are the guidelines for names?

As per the guidelines issued by The Akal Takhat it is mandatory that a Sikh Wedding Ceremony – the Anand Karaj – can only be performed if both Bride and Groom accept the Sikh faith and a commitment to uphold Sikh traditions. Wedding ceremony cards must include the middle name or surname of ‘Singh’ and ‘Kaur’.

When booking your wedding at SGGSJ Telford we will require Passport ID to confirm ‘Singh’ and ‘Kaur’ are in place/adopted before the Anand Karaj booking can be booked.

I’m having a wedding at the Gurdwara – what are the guidelines for ‘Phoolon Ki Chadar’?

As per the guidelines issued by The Akal Takhat the bride must not enter the Guru’s Court with a flower canopy or be showered with flowers. This tradition is often referred to as the ‘Phoolon Ki Chadar’.

Can my Sikh Wedding / Anand Karaj be performed outside of the Gurdwara?

As per the guidelines issued by The Akal Takhat weddings performed outside of the grounds of the Gurdwara Sahib are strictly prohibited.

A previously growing trend raised various conduct concerns, specifically where the sanctity of Guru Ji had not been appropriately maintained at Beaches, Resorts or Venues.

SGGSJ Telford does not conduct visits of Guru Ji outside of the Gurdwara Sahib, unless a booking for an Akhand Paath or Sukhmani Sahib Paath has been pre-arranged.

How do I provide feedback or register a complaint?

We encourage Sangat feedback – both positive and negative. Listening to the Sangat is a core factor that has contributed to the successes at SGGSJ Telford. And sometimes we may get things wrong – or you may have a great idea to improve the Gurdwara Sahib for others.

In both cases please email us at info@telfordgurdwara.org and the Sevadaar Team will aim to respond within 5 working days.