A United Front
In 1911 in the town of Holt, a meeting of Sikhs from across the state took place in order to establish a Sikh society and religious center. Then, on August 22, 1912, Sikhs purchased a lot in south Stockton with the intention of building a gurdwara—a Sikh religious, social, political, and educational institution. The construction of the Stockton Gurdwara served not only the needs of Sikh Americans but also stood as an important resource for all immigrants of South Asian descent.
The Stockton Gurdwara would benefit South Asian students by starting a scholarship fund and purchasing houses in Berkeley for students to stay rent-free. The Gurdwara also fed anyone that was hungry—regardless of their identity—through their community kitchen. The kitchen, known as the langar, is open all hours of the day and is closed only a few hours during the night. This important landmark was the first of its kind of the US and remained that way until 1946.
Notable names to come from the Stockton Gurdwara and our Sikh community include Bhagat Singh Thind (the first Sikh and turban-wearing individual in the US Army) and Dalip Singh Saund (the first Asian American and only Sikh to serve in the House of Representatives in 1956).