Bahadur Singh Salem OR
President of Sikh Temple, Charitable Work
Bahadur Singh, is the president of the Dasmesh Darbar Sikh Temple in Salem, Oregon. With strong relationships in his own communities and influential networks of philanthropy abroad, Bahadur understands the importance of integrating patience, kindness, and respect in order to make the world better for all.
His parents and his wife are all baptized in the Sikh faith. This means they must follow certain rules which include no consumption of alcohol, tobacco or haircuts!
“My guru said you are born as natural so stay as natural. This is how the creator made us,” Bahadur says in response to the no haircut rule.
But what does Sikhism actually mean? “Sikh” means disciple or student. The religion of Sikhism was founded in the 1400s by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. It was a time of turmoil in India; Muslim conversions were forced. Between the years 1469 to 1708, ten gurus established the traditions and philosophy of Sikhism. They created a 1,430-page book of teaching on how to practice life according to the gurus and some saints from Islam and Hinduism. In 1708 the 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh, said there would be no more gurus after him; he was thus the last. Sikh beliefs are many but one of them includes the idea of equality: all human beings are equal.Bahadur loves talking to people about his religion, especially if it means calming their fears. The turbans tend to instill fear in the United States but Bahadur, one of the most compassionate people, wants people to know there is nothing to fear. Sikhs are peace-loving, nonviolent people.
Bahadur Singh has begun and participated in many community oriented, charitable projects. He is always looking for opportunities to spread kindness. He has made such an impact in his community that Salem, OR honored him with an inaugural membership on the city’s International Council.
Bahadur moved to Salem, Oregon in 1999, as the Sikh Community was growing.
The nearest temple was in Vancouver, which meant many families were traveling far every weekend. Together with others in the community, Bahadur founded Dasmesh Darbar Sikh Temple. The whole community contributed funds. They elected Bahadur to be the first president. Bahadur is still the president today, and feels strongly about the faith and community. Spending time and money in order to advance the community is fundamental to his own happiness and the community’s success.
Bahadur has ensured that the temple is a place of comfort and culture. There is a large foyer, room for visitors to remove their shoes and two open rooms. The first open room is a “free kitchen” with fresh vegetarian food available twice a day for any temple dwellers or attendees. People of all faiths tend to stop in. But there are no tables or chairs. Everyone sits on the floor to keep each individual on the same level. “It makes everyone equal in the house of the Lord,” Navneet, Bahadur’s friend and fellow business partner, said. “There is no racism, no caste system, nothing.”
The temple is a great way to work in conjunction with other organizations on a variety of projects. Bahadur Singh recently worked in collaboration with First Congregational United Church of Christ where we worked with a youth group and prepared meals for the homeless. Every year they work on a project with David Massey, Assistant Professor of Religion Studies. In 2015 year they served food in a free kitchen in McMinnville.
The second room is for the presence, covered in red carpets and ornate fabrics, colored glass and a large sparkling chandelier. There is even a stage for musicians and a place for a Sikh to read from the Guru Granth Sahib, the 1,430-page book of teachings. Upstairs is a queen bed surrounded by 24-caret-gold-plated ceilings and walls for the resting place for the holy book.
Bahadur Singh and Dasmsesh Darbar continually host and educate youth groups from Mission Adventures, an organization that prepares youth for ministry, and strategic evangelism. They have an annual Sikh Parade at the Temple and this is an opportunity for thousands to participate and are served free meals. Bahadur works on all of these projects with Navneet Kaur. Finally, Bahadur finances annual eye camps in India in which thousands of people get free eye surgeries, medicines and eyeglasses. A few months ago he began a cleaning campaign in village in India, being the compassionate and entrepreneurial man he is.