After a year's delay in getting final approval by San Joaquin County officials, the Lodi Sikh Temple will mark the grand opening of its new hall on Sunday with a parade and service.
Services have been held in a smaller building, but they will now move to a new building that can hold an estimated 400 people, according to Harnam Singh, the head priest at the Lodi temple the past three years. He expects 800 or more people to attend the special parade, which will be limited to the perimeter of the grounds at Armstrong Road and West Lane.
The community - including those who aren't Sikhs - is welcome to attend.
The grand opening will actually begin at 11 a.m. Friday, when members of the congregation read the Sikh holy book cover to cover, which takes about 48 hours, Singh said.
The one-hour parade will begin between 9 and 9:30 a.m., he said, and the service will begin between 11 and 11:30 a.m.
The service will include speakers who will explain what Sikhism is and what Sikhs' religious beliefs are.
When visitors enter the new temple Sunday, they will see an elaborate 10-foot-long model of the Golden Temple in Punjab, India.
The model temple has a white marble plaza and is made of artificial gold that is lighted from inside. The real temple is made of solid gold, Singh said.
There will be free food, which Sikhs describe as "langar," available to the community.
One of the tenets of the Sikh faith is to help victims of natural disasters, Singh said. So the temple is collecting contributions for Southern California wildfire victims, he said.
• 15,000 Sikhs live in the greater Sacramento area.
• The first Sikh temple in the United States was built in Stockton in 1912.
• It is the world's fifth-largest religion, with 26 million followers worldwide.
• It originated more than 500 years ago in India.
• It is a distinct religion, having no links with Hinduism or Islam.
• Sikhs have lived in the U.S. for more than 100 years.
• 83,000 Sikh soldiers died during World Wars I and II.
• They wear turbans to cover long, uncut hair. Turbans are made of cloth about 15 feet long and wrapped neatly around the head every time it is put on. Turbans symbolize discipline, integrity, humility and spirituality.
Singh is one of four priests at the Lodi temple. The others are Dhram Singh, Ronak Singh and Satbal Singh. In the United States, men give themselves the last name of Singh, and women use the last name of Kaur, according to Harnam Singh.
The lead priest was born July 4, 1943, in India and came to the United States in 1997 because of all the Sikh communities in the area. He lived at the Stockton Temple as a priest for five years and in Santa Rosa for two years before coming to Lodi in 2004.
He lives with his wife, Amarjeet Kaur. They have three married children in India and five grandchildren.