Can we wear jeans in Gurudwara?


Second Sikh Gurdwara in Switzerland

On Vaisakhi in April 2015, the Sikh community of Switzerland inaugurated its newly built Gurdwara ("Guru's Door") in Däniken SO with numerous visitors and guests. In addition to important rituals, the highlights of the celebrations were the setting up of the flagpole with the khanda (double sword) on top and greetings from the government council of the canton of Solothurn and other personalities. The building, which is decorated with four turrets, is 14 meters high and has construction costs of around CHF 2.3 million, making it the second Gurdwara to be built in Switzerland; the first built Sikhs from Langenthal, which was inaugurated in 2006.

The Sikh religion

The Sikh religion is one of the numerically smaller world religions and is one of the smallest religious communities in Switzerland. This religion was founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1539) in northern India in the Punjab. Nanak saw himself as a reformer of what, in his opinion, was a meaningless ritualized Hinduism and a frozen Islam, but not as the founder of a new religion. He gathered students around him (Hindi: sikhana: teach, train, teach). Nanak taught an imageless monotheism that makes no distinction between people of different origins. Its three principles are simple: work for a living, pray to God, share. He taught belief in the one almighty God, the Creator, who is uncreated and immortal and cannot be depicted. In contrast to Islam, Guru Nanak taught rebirth. The beings develop gradually until they reach the highest level as humans.

Peculiarities of the Sikh religion

Nine other Guru followed Nanak. The tenth, Guru Gobind Singh, shaped the reform movement into an independent religious tradition in 1699. Guru Gobind Singh explained the differences in birth as abolished, and men and women as equal. All men were given the nickname Singh, lion, the women Kaur, prince (not princess!). Man and woman received amrit, nectar, in a ceremony and thus became members of the Sikh brotherhood. They were obliged to wear the "5 K". These are five symbols that begin with the letter "K" in Punjabi: Uncut hair (kesch), men are also not allowed to cut their beards and also wear a turban. A wooden comb (kangha) is worn in the hair as a sign of cleanliness. Special cotton underpants (kacha) are supposed to contribute to sexual moderation. A steel bracelet (Kara) reminds of the obligation to truth. A dagger (kirpan) worn day and night is the sign that Sikh defend the poor, the weak and the innocent.


Sikh Foundation (Switzerland)
Dennliweg 31
4900 Langenthal
Email to the Gurdwara
Contact person:
Karan Singh
Langackerstrasse 3
8952 Schlieren
Tel .: 078 655 69 13

Sikh community Switzerland Gurdwara
Schachenstrasse 39
4658 Däniken / SO
Tel .: 062 2913298
Email to the Gurdwara
Contact person:
Karnail Singh
Tel .: 079 414 27 03
or: 044 483 03 94

Guru Gobind Singh completed the first holy book, Adi Granth, renamed it Guru Granth Sahib and declared himself the last human guru and the holy book as the source of the spiritual as the guru. The Guru Granth Sahib contains texts by 26 authors from different religious traditions in different languages. This openness to other religious beliefs is echoed in teaching (Nanak: "There are no Hindus, there are no Muslims, there are only God's creatures."), As well as in practice. The Hari Mandir, the highest shrine in Amritsar (better known under the name "Golden Temple") has four doors so that people from all four religions, that is, from all religions, can enter. Sikhs meet in Gurdwaras for church services. They mainly consist of readings from the Guru Granth Sahib and Kirtan, religious chants.

Sikhs in Switzerland

Several million Sikh live outside India. Especially in Canada (approx. 700,000 Sikh) and England (approx. 600,000) there are large Sikh communities with several hundred Gurdwaras. For years, conditions similar to civil war prevailed in Punjab. Following the temple tower "Blue Star Operation" ordered by Indira Gandhi in 1984, thousands fled or emigrated to the West, including Switzerland.

From 1984 to the beginning of the 1990s, up to 3,000 Sikh asylum seekers lived in Switzerland at times. Because the majority were not recognized as refugees, many moved on, a large part of them to Canada. Today the number of Sikh living in Switzerland is estimated at over 500. Since the Sikh religion was not recorded in the census, it is hardly possible to give more precise figures. Due to the increasing number of children, the number is increasing. Sikh live all over Switzerland.



From 1985 to 1990 there was a little Gurdwara in an apartment in Basel, where services were celebrated every Sunday. In addition, several festivals were celebrated in rented halls at different locations in German-speaking Switzerland every year. Most of the Sikh population in Switzerland appeared under the name "Sikh Sangat Switzerland" (Punjabi "Sangat" = community), but had no fixed structures.

Since 1992 a permanent Gurdwara has been set up in a former factory (Gugelmann spinning mill) in Roggwil, where a church service is celebrated every Sunday. Since then, the Sikh who visit the Gurdwara have been collecting money to buy building land in order to be able to build what they consider to be a correct Gurdwara. Internal tensions caused the Sikh community to split. The community in Roggwil now operates under the name "Sikh Center Switzerland" and has the legal form of a foundation. She was able to acquire a piece of land in Langenthal in the Dennli industrial area, on which, according to the original plans, a Gurdwara with a meeting room and public kitchen was to be opened in July 2003. The groundbreaking ceremony for Gurdwara took place on October 25th, 2002 with a large participation of the media. In September 2006, the Sikhs around the organizer Karan Singh inaugurated the new, striking Gurdwara with a large number of believers and visitors.

The second grouping occurs under the name "Sikh community Switzerland Gurdwara" and has the legal form of an association according to ZGB. On the same weekend as the groundbreaking took place in Langenthal, the community opened a Gurdwara in a former factory building in Däniken, Canton Solothurn. The media was not wanted at this point. As the only non-Sikh, they invited the writer and the architect. It was interesting that about twice as many Sikh were present at this event than in Langenthal. The association wants to gradually convert the factory hall into a traditional gurdwara with a meeting room, public kitchen and various ancillary rooms. One of the main concerns of this community is the advancement of youth. This became evident at the opening when children sang and made music instead of professional religious musicians. In the spring break of 2003, the first youth camp took place, where children received instruction in religion, culture and language. The first "Open House" took place in November 2004. In the years that followed, plans became more concrete to replace the temporary Gurdwara in a hall with a newly built building with a meeting room and dining room (langar). The groundbreaking ceremony took place in April 2014 and the inauguration ceremony in the presence of various guests of honor on April 19, 2015.

There are no religious differences between the two Sikh communities. The reason that they no longer appear together is due to interpersonal problems. In Switzerland, Sikh are professionally and socially assimilated. Because they are traditionally and religiously very hardworking and reject religious fundamentalism, they find their place in Swiss society.


Khushwant Singh, Raghu Rai, The Sikhs. Stuttgart, Bonn 1986.

Christoph Peter Baumann: "Sikh Religion", in: Celebrate religions. Festivals and holidays of religious communities in Germany, ed. von REMID, Marburg 1997, p.162-170.

Christoph Peter Baumann, "Holy Scriptures of Sikhism", in: Udo Tworuschka (ed.), Holy scriptures, Darmstadt 2000, pp. 197-210.

Christoph Peter Baumann: "... very different from India". Sikhs in Switzerland: Problems and Suggested Solutions. Audio series, accompanying booklet, Basel: 1994. Manava Verlag.

Martin Baumann: Sikhism in Switzerland: First Open Doors' Day at the Gurdwara in Daeniken. Slide slide show in the Pluralism Project, Harvard, 2004. Click here for the online slide show.

© Christoph Peter Baumann Last update: Martin Baumann 7/2015; 5/2014 Photos: © Martin Baumann, 2004 and 2006