London

Children in charge of Holland Park Sikh temple

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Media captionA Sikh temple in London is handing control over to children for one day a month. Catrin Nye reports.

A Sikh Gurdwara in west London has put children at the heart of its running for one day a month.

The idea came from parents who wanted their children to have a bigger role in their place of worship.

The Gurdwara Khalsa Jatha in Holland Park was established in 1908 making it the oldest Sikh place of worship in the UK.

Organisers of the event told BBC Asian Network they wanted their children to sustain the temple that their elders had worked so hard to create.

Pasta and chips

Navleen Kaur, who organised the event and brought along her own children, said: "There was definitely a need to change the approach because everything was in Punjabi, it was very long.

"We changed it so we could come down to the level of the children, open the space for them and let the children tell us what to do.

"The older generation created the Gurdwaras. They've done great work by giving us the space, but we learn in a different way now and we don't sit down and do as we're told any more and not ask questions."

Many aspects of the day are adapted to be more child friendly than an ordinary day of worship.

The devotional songs or kirtan are shorter so that the children don't get bored.

The Punjabi language is also replaced with English, or at least translated so everyone can understand.

The Gurdwara food - the Lungar - which is always available at temple has been adapted. Pasta and chips are available alongside the usual Indian fare while dads have been brought in to cook.

Parents were encouraged to get involved as well, guiding the children in singing and painting faces.

'Sense of fun'

Sanjiv Mohan Singh Ahluwalia, who brought his four year old down, "Takeover of the children - I think it's lovely.

"It's easy for a formal religious venue of this nature to exude a formal feel about it and to see children coming to give it a sense of life and a sense of fun, I think it's wonderful."

One of the children given a more ceremonial role was 12 year old Anahat Kalra who led some devotional singing.

He said: "I did Gobinday Mukunday and I did the hand actions with it to get the younger children to join in as well.

"I think the arts and crafts help today as well - all children want their faces painted so it's fun for them."

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