The Stockton Gurdwara Sahib, California, USA holds great historical significance for the Sikh community. It is the first Gurdwara sahib that was built to serve the Sikh Sangat living in the whole of United States of America (USA). The Gurdwara sahib came into existence in 1912 with joint efforts of Sardar Basakha Singh and Bhai Jawala Singh. A meeting was held in Holt, a town near Stockton where a committee was appointed to raise money for the construction of the Gurdwara.
It was in September of 1912 when land was purchased on South Granth Street in Stockton for the use of the Gurdwara. A small frame house that was already standing on the lot was used as the main building of the Gurdwara. This building still stands where a library is now implemented. A Nishan Sahib was also hoisted for the first time at the Gurdwara in 1912. Baba Vasakha Singh and Baba Jawala Singh Thathian of Amritsar Sahib were appointed as the first Granthi Singh Jis of the Gurdwara.
Later in 1929, a second building to added to the Gurdwara complex.
History of the Gurdwara
The oldest existing Sikh gurdwara in both the US and Canada was founded in 1912 and despite the fact that there are bigger gurdwaras, it has retained its pre-eminence in the religious history of North American Sikhs. Whenever there is a reference to the immigration of Sikh to these shores, a reference is always made to the Stockton gurdwara.
Since a vast majority of first immigrants from India were Sikhs, the earliest immigration organization centered on Gurdwaras. The difficulties faced by the Sikhs put them in the lap of revolutionaries. The traditional Sikh response against domination was to fight back. The Gurdwaras were the only public places where Punjabis or other Indians could meet.
They became the strong centers of political activity. This applies to this temple as well. It was called, “Gadari Babeyan da Gurdwara”—(the gurdwara founded by the members of the Gadar Party.) The Khlasa Diwan Society and other organizations began to publish tabloids in Gurmukhi, Urdu and English here in the old days.
Since 1912, when the Stockton gurdwara was established, until the next gurdwara came up in West America, almost fifty-five years later, the Stockton gurdwara was the only beacon of light for all the Sikhs on the West Coast of USA. During the early period of immigation to the USA, if someone had to go to the gurdwara, it had to be to Stockton. If one wish to keep an akhand paath then they had to travel to this sacred shrine in Stockton. In time, other gurdwaras came up in other towns, but the Stockton gurdwara retains its unique status of being the oldest existing gurdwara in North America.
After purchasing the land in South Granth Street in September of 1912, the small frame house that was already standing on the lot was used as the main building of the Gurdwara. This building still stands still which is now used for Akhand Paths and Anand Karaj. A Nishan Sahib was also hoisted for the first time at the Gurdwara in about 1912. Baba Vasakha Singh and Baba Jawala Singh Thathian of Amritsar Sahib were appointed as the first Granthi (priests) of the Gurdwara.
In 1912, the older building came up. The Nishan Sahib was raised, to mark it as the house of Guru Nanak and the Guru Granth Sahib was ceremoniously installed. All the steps were taken to have a proper gurdwara where a Sikh could pay obeisance to Wahe Guru. The top black and white photograph shows that first building, which is now being used for holding of the akhand paath and Anand Karaj.