Sikh who runs only gurdwara in Brazil
Sohbag Kaur Khalsa
Sohbag Kaur Khalsa, an American Sikh settled in Brazil, is running the only gurdwara in the country. Carrying the legacy of her late husband forward Sohbag, a yoga teacher, says there are no Sikhs but the gurdwara in San Paulo still runs packed with Brazilians who are regular visitors.
Relating the story of how she and her husband, a Brazilian who had become a Sikh while in the USA, laid the foundation stone of Guru Arjun Dev Gurdwara, Ms Khalsa said, "Nobody knew Sikhs in Brazil. We were the only two turbaned persons in that city. But it was our family dream and we broke ground in 2000. We made a guesthouse for visitors and a clinic. On the second floor, the gurdwara is built."
It was a huge task for the couple to build the gurdwara since there was no other Sikh sangat in the city to support the project. So, they went to the USA and had stayed with their family and worked for eight months to earn money for the project.
They were able to save $10,000. During a vacation to the USA, she found out that her husband was suffering from cancer which was now in its terminal stage. So, they decided to start the gurdwara so that her husband could see it happening before he breathed his last.
On June 6, 2004, the gurdwara was inaugurated. Sohbag's husband performed the ardas, his last public appearance. And then he died.
Born in Pennysylvania, Sohbag holds a degree in social work and started yoga while living in Maine. Then, she quit her job and moved to Boston where she began research on yoga and met Yogi Harbhajan Singh and became a Sikh.
Now, Ms Khalsa has come to admit two of her three children at the Miri Piri Academy. "I have come after 25 years to India. A lot has changed. Inflation is going up and cleanliness and purity is going down. I had a keen desire to see Harmander Sahib. So, I flew into Amritsar. My two sons, Ajit and Gobind, have been admitted to the Miri Piri Academy at Cheharta near Amritsar while my daughter is a web designer," she adds.
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