Sikhs have been settling in Leicester since the end of the Second World War. The opening of the Sikh Gurdwaras in Leicester, in 1960, reflects the growth of the city’s Sikh population. By 2011, the Sikh population of the city had risen to 14,457, representing 4.4% of the city’s population (compared to 0.8% nationally). This Sikh presence continues to contribute very significantly to the social, political and religious life of the city and is especially evident at the annual Vaisakhi celebrations, attracting thousands of people from across Leicester and the Midlands, to a march through the streets of the city centre.
The first gurdwaras were in small houses and rented halls before permanent places of faith could be established. The Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurdwara was originally set up in the 1960s on New Walk, moving into this former factory building in 1989.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara established through weekly Kirtan Sessions and weddings held locally in Bridge Road Primary School to a former saw mill in 1976, and a shoe warehouse at East Park Road in 1989.
The buildings were adapted and the changes can be charted through the local planning process. The community stories related to the redevelopment of previously used buildings focus on their practical contribution and the concept of kaar Sewa. At Guru Tegh Bahadur current site, thousands of wooden racks were removed by members of the sangat in preparation for its religious use. The building was gradually renovated as funds allowed, initially establishing suitable spaces for the Darbar and Langar halls.
Over the years the Gurdwara has expanded to three Darbar halls, a museum office space and other areas dedicated to education and wellbeing. Stained glass windows were installed in 2000, and a two-storey entrance lobby with a porch and lotus-shaped dome were later added in 2009, again offering a more distinctively Sikh facade. The industrial buildings offer Sikh communities open spaces, suitable for the gathering of large numbers of people. Further refurbishment and modernisation plans are on the way.
Gurdwara in Leicester are not only a place of worship, but also house supplementary schools supporting bilingualism, and library to promote literacy and a love for learning, acts as a community hub offering food, shelter and companionship to all those who need it.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara also offer facilities such as a Community Centre, the Roseberry Preschool to support working parents, EPAG group and a Day Centre offering day care for the elderly and adults with learning difficulties.