Food catering suspended at Sikh temples

Food catering for visitors and devotees in a sacred religious practice known as langar (left) will be suspended at the Silat Road Sikh Temple and the Central Sikh Temple over the next four weeks, although an exception will be made for weddings. ST PH
Food catering for visitors and devotees in a sacred religious practice known as langar (left) will be suspended at the Silat Road Sikh Temple and the Central Sikh Temple over the next four weeks, although an exception will be made for weddings.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Equipment for livestreaming of programmes to be installed at two temples amid virus fears

Food catering will be suspended and equipment for the livestreaming of programmes will be installed at the Central Sikh Temple and Silat Road Sikh Temple over the next four weeks, as the Sikh community heeds the Government's calls to be vigilant in religious practices amid a global worsening of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Although weddings that have been booked at the temples for the next three months can proceed, the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board yesterday said additional precautions such as temperature taking will be put in place, while advising elderly Sikhs to stay away from the gurdwaras (temples) and crowded places until the coronavirus situation improves.

The latest announcement comes after a Muslim religious gathering in Kuala Lumpur between Feb 27 and March 1 - involving more than 10,000 people of various nationalities - emerged as a regional coronavirus cluster, prompting Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli to urge all religious groups here to step up efforts to protect their members.

In its statement on Monday, the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board said all forms of langar, a sacred religious practice of catering food for visitors and devotees at Sikh temples, will be suspended.

Although an exception will be made for weddings, the temples must separate devotees into groups spread across two floors of the gurdwara complex for langar.

Gurpurabs, celebrations of the anniversaries of gurus' births, will also "be conducted in a simplified manner with utmost respect", the board said.

The reading of Sikh scriptures, or Sehaj Paath, will be carried out at fixed timings in the morning and afternoon for a week and livestreamed for devotees to join in from their homes.

The board's "priority is to safeguard the health of our sangat (devotees) visiting the gurdwara, as well as the wider Singapore community and, indeed, humanity", the statement said.

Weddings that have been booked at the temples for the next three months can proceed, but with additional precautions such as temperature taking. Elderly Sikhs have been advised to stay away from the temples and crowded places until the coronavirus situation improves.

The Straits Times understands that most, if not all, forms of langar at Sikh temples in Singapore have been suspended for now.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2020, with the headline 'Food catering suspended at Sikh temples'. Print Edition | Subscribe