Driving through Glendale, Arizona on the 101-Loop, the impressive 19,000-square-foot Nishkam Seva Gurdwara Sahib glides into view and competes with freeway traffic for attention. Nestled at the base of the Hedgepeth Hills, the temple’s striking golden accents and immaculate grounds create a palpable allure.
Home to local Sikhs and devout followers of the late Kundalini Yoga guru Yogi Bhajan, the gurdwara (temple) is a friendly and welcoming hub of faith. A close relative of Hinduism, Sikhism is enjoying an increased presence in the yoga community thanks to Bhajan’s Sikh-based teachings. Founded by Guru Nanak more than 500 years ago, Sikhism’s emphasis on peace, justice, equality and one Universal God has strong contemporary appeal.
The weekly Sunday program from 10:30am to 12:30pm is not to be missed. The recitation from the Guru Granth Sabhi (holy text) is transcendent and the melodic devotional songs are conveniently translated into English on two large projection screens. At the program’s conclusion, delicious vegetarian Punjabi fare is served in the adjacent langar (dinning hall). As per Sikh tradition, the tasty food is offered in abundance, free of charge.
Visit the temple during off-hours and you might just have the opportunity to meditate or pray by yourself in the powerful silence that fills the inner sanctuary. Afterwards, be sure to ask one of the temple staff for halwa, a consecrated sweet with a vital pulse that matches its memorable flavor, rich with ghee and hints of cardamom.
Wear traditional Indian clothes to the temple or modest Western attire in which you can sit comfortably on the floor. Before entering, remove your shoes and cover your head with a scarf, skull cap, turban, or one of the many handkerchiefs available at the temple entrance. Inside the main temple hall, women sit to the right of the center aisle and men to the left.
Deeply inspired and gloriously built in honor of Sikh dharma and the religion’s ten gurus, a trip to this magnificent temple may just plant the seed for a pilgrimage to the famous Sikh Golden Temple of Amritsar, India.
Programs include 5 Banis & Kirtan daily from 5:30am-6:30am and 7:00pm-8:00pm, Sukhmani Sahib & Kirtan on Wednesdays from 10:30am-11:30am, Chopai Sahib on Fridays from 7:00pm-9:00pm, and Sukhmani Sahib & Kirtan on Sundays from 10:30am to 12:30pm. Visit the gurdwara website at nishkamseva.org for complete details and special events.