In the year of 1995, on the advice of a very well respected spiritual leader in the Sikh faith, Bhai Jiwan Singh Ji, a group of twenty families came together and purchased eleven and a half acres of land along 84th Street and McKnight Boulevard in north-east Calgary, with the hopes of creating a non-profit facility that could serve the city's growing Sikh community. The existing home on the land became known as Calgary's 'Khalsa School' - a place where young Sikhs would come and learn the language and music of their faith. For ten years, the rooms in the 2500 square foot home were used as classrooms for students learning how to play east-Indian instruments, how to read and write the Punjabi language and Sikhism's scriptures, but also the history of Sikhs and the philosophy of their faith. The building and organization remained an integral part of the community in this manner for many years, but there were many unforeseen changes to come. In September of 2004, Calgary's Sikh community celebrated the 400th anniversary of the compilation of the Sikh Scriptures, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The Khalsa School organization held numerous events to celebrate the occasion. One of the events was where the congregation took the Holy Scriptures outside of the house and performed a mini parade (chaunkee) while singing hymns and celebrating the joyous centennial anniversary.
The new hall was attached to the left of the already existing home and a brand new entrance was also erected. Now the congregation had an open area to enjoy music and meditation together and not be confined to the smaller areas in the existing home. It was a revolutionary time for Calgary's Sikh community.
The idea behind the design of the main hall was to encapsulate a sense of warmth and intimacy…to create a sense of peacefulness and devotion for the congregation who came to listen to attend the programs at the facility and meditate with the music. Countless volunteers and business devoted their time and skills to help with the construction of the hall. It is interesting to note that not one person was ever solicited to raise money for the construction of the new hall. Any funds received for the construction of Guru Ram Das Darbar were through donations of people from the community on their own.
To celebrate the grand opening of the Gurdwara, the most famous musician ever in the history of Sikh music, Bhai Harjinder Singh Ji, Sri Nagar Vale, was flown to Calgary from India and played nightly at the facility to crowds of over five hundred people for an entire week.
** Guru Ram Dass Jee **The name of the Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) is a tribute to the Sikh's fourth teacher, Sri Guru Ram Das Sahib Ji.
Going back to the original days, the facility has always been run by volunteers. In the past two and a half years, Guru Ram Das Darbar has hosted countless events and programs for Calgary's Sikh community. The current schedule includes a weekly musical meditation session ever Wednesday evening that is run by youth in the community, classes to learn music, language, and history on Saturdays, a Sunday service, and yoga classes in the afternoon; all free of charge with an east-Indian, vegetarian meal served after every program.
Guru Ram Das Darbar has become an integral part of Calgary's Sikh community. But it is not only a place for Sikhs. People from many different faiths come to the centre to enjoy what services it has to offer. Through the efforts of all its volunteers, Guru Ram Das Darbar is continuing on the spirit of those Sikh pioneers who arrived in Canada over one hundred years ago, making Sikh heritage a vital part of Canada's heritage as a great multicultural nation.