Contemporary Sikh architecture in the Canadian diaspora
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 17:36 authored by Joginder Dhanjal
Very little has been contributed to the research of Sikh Architecture. Any research that does exist offers little understanding and analysis of Gurdwaras in the Diaspora. This thesis explores the design possibilities of a contemporary Gurdwara in a Canadian context. Part of living in a multi-cultural society is the synthesis of cultures, identity and values that come with each group. Little has been discussed or researched on the architecture that has been transplanted with each group. Little has been discussed or researched on the architecture that has been transplanted by the Diaspora from their homelands. Many of these religious institutions are erected in rural and urban centres. Part of this transplanted architectural movement is from the Sikh Community. The first Sikh settlers arrived in British Columbia, Canada in the 1890's. Over time this small community of Sikhs would build a temple that would become the first of many erected temples. This emerging architectural style would be a distinctive fusion of Sikh and Canadian architecture. This notion of blending of Sikhi and Canadiana would come through the symbolic gestures on the exterior facade detailing and usage of interior space within the worship place. Today, in Canada there are upwards to one hundred Sikh Temples, known as a "Gurudwara". Very little has been contributed to the research and academia on Sikh Architecture. The research that does exist offers little understanding and analysis of Gurudwaras in the Diaspora. This paper explores the state of design and history of the Gurdwara(s) in a Canadian context. Some of the key difficulties in understanding the Sikh Diaspora architecture are: what constitutes a religious place of worship? How does a Sikh Gurdwara manifest in a contemporary Diaspora form? What is the architectural definition of a Gurdwara as it pertains to semiotics? Caught between a struggle with their new homeland - Canada - and their native soil of the Province of Punjab, Sikhs search to find a Canadian Diaspora identity. This disengagement can be connected with examining the historical and present state of Gurdwaras in Canada. The discourse of contemporary Canadian Sikh identity is clearly indicated through the architectural representation of their worship centres, the Gurdwara.