Hundreds attend grand opening of Golden Temple-inspired school building in Chadwell Heath
PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 October 2018
Prayer, martial arts and the raising of a flag marked the official opening of a Chadwell Heath school building inspired by the famed Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.
More than 500 people gathered for the grand opening of the Atam Academy’s new building, in Barley Lane, Little Heath, on Saturday, October 13.
The ceremony opened with the arrival of the Sikh holy scriptures – known as the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj – which were carried into the school’s spiritual hall, or darbar sahib.
Worshippers then congregated in the hall for the recitation of the prayer known as the Sri Sukhmani Sahib Path and hymns known as Kirtan.
“We had a great turnout,” said the academy’s director Tasveer Singh.
“We were joined by parents and other members of the Sikh community and non-Sikhs too.
“There was a lot of excitement.”
At lunchtime, the Sikh Empower Voluntary Association (Seva), cooked a vegetarian “langar” meal for all guests.
The group - which gathers to feed the homeless in Ilford town centre every Tuesday - was presented with an award to recognise its contribution to the community.
Following lunch, five men clad in orange and grasping sizeable swords – known as the Panj Piare or “chosen ones” – watched over the raising of ahuge flagpole, draped in orange cloth, in the school’s courtyard.
Tasveer said that the flag-raising ceremony, known as Nishan, “represents that the school is a place of worship and is a symbol of the Sikh identity”.
The ceremony also included a demonstration of gatka – a spiritual Sikh form of self-defence – by martial arts club Baba Fateh Singh Akhara.
Among the attendees were Ilford North MP Wes Streeting, council leader Jas Athwal and Redbridge mayor Cllr Debbie Kaur-Thiara.
The design of the new school building takes inspiration from the Golden Temple - also known as the Sri Harmandir Sahib.
The school is advertising for pupils to join its secondary school which is set to open in 2019.
The secondary school will take six years to fill by which point it will have about 1,300 pupils.