All clear for Sikh temple in Melbourne

Initial hurdles satisfactorily overcome, it’s now smooth sailing for the Gurudwara at Officer, writes Simmi Singh

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Signalling friendship, faith and collaboration the Australian, Aboriginal and Sikh flags were hoisted recently at a proposed site for a new Sikh place of worship.

The 20-acre property, earmarked for the planned Sri Guru Nanak Darbar temple, is located at Officer in Cardinia Shire Council region. The flag hoisting marked the grand foundation  ceremony of the new temple as well as National Reconciliation Week. It came as a relief for the Sikh community of Cardinia Shire as the execution of the project was under strain due to initial objections from neighbours.

This Sikh flag Nishan Sahib is flanked by the Australian and Aboriginal flags

24 local residents had earlier approached the VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) and raised an objection against the proposed temple that was later withdrawn. The concerns were mainly around increased traffic on roads frequented by children, horses and bicyclists, noise pollution in a tranquil lifestyle and adverse impact on the green wedge zone environment.

The VCAT case against the temple development was withdrawn in May this year after the residents sought legal advice on the matter. According to community representative Harpreet Singh, “Mutual understanding is an ongoing process and we are grateful that the residents made the decision to withdraw their objection”.

Guests planting flowers

Singh also thanked those who helped, guided and persevered in their efforts to support the community. According to him the Sikh society embarked on an outreach and public relations efforts to communicate their intentions. They shared knowledge of their faith and plans for the place of worship though mailbox drops and through community interactions.

Local land care groups, environmental and planning experts were consulted to ensure that the project met the best standards. The development will include organic food farming and other horticultural activities in line with the rural landscape.

Youngest members of the community raise the flag

During the flag-hoisting event, trees were planted and bird boxes installed at the property to celebrate the World Environment Day. All the special guests were presented with a memento of the famous Golden Temple in appreciation.

The 123-capacity place of worship will be designed as a place for prayer and spiritual energy. Devotee Avtar Singh reiterated, “Everyone, no matter which country or religion they belong to, is welcome to the Gurudwara and can be a part of our celebrations and service.”

The exalted Sikh flag (Nishan Sahib) symbolises the inherent values of the Sikh faith: one god, equality of all humans, love and respect for all, and a life of service and dedication.

Daniel Mulino, Member for Eastern Region & Parliamentary Secretary for Treasury and Finance stated, “It was a privilege to attend the opening of the Sikh temple at Officer. The Sikh community has worked collaboratively over a number of years to get to this point. I am confident that they will make a significant contribution to Officer and the broader region.”

Nina Springle MP, Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens, observed, “Foundation Day Siri Guru Nanak Darbar marks an important milestone for the Sikh community as an established and contributing part of Cardinia Shire. It’s clear from the widespread support they have for their project that they will continue to play a valuable role in the growing diversity of the area.”

Central Ward Councillor Michael Schilling said, “It was a privilege to take part in the flag raising ceremony, and be able to witness the success of the Sikh community here in Cardinia. Cultural and religious diversity is so important in building a healthy community, and I very much look forward to following this group’s progress over the coming years.”