I just came across some pictures of my home town Gurdwara in Los Angeles, California and it brought back many memories looking at the pictures. I was born and raised in L.A. and was there till I left for boarding school in India when I was about 8. I lived a few blocks away from the Gurdwara as did much of our community. I have many good experiences in the Gurdwara and the area.
The Gurdwara was our central place for community activities, Gurdwara and learning, and we were there quite often. The Gurdwara is actually quite small, but it always seemed very "full" in other ways.
After our daily morning Sadhana at Yoga West (which was was shown in the BBC – Desi DNA video) we would walk a few blocks to the Gurdwara, listen to Gurbani Kirtan, do ardas and hukamnama, then enjoy some yummy parshad. We used to get parshad with blanched almonds and hot mint tea. It was so nice coming out into the fresh morning air as the sun was almost coming up after Gurdwara. There is something about getting up early in the morning and meditating that just gives a lot of joy to life. Quite a different experience than stumbling out of bed at 8 am, into the hot shower, and coffee/doughnuts to start the day. It is a great experience to get up early in the morning with other people from the community and meditate. I think it can be harder doing it on your own than with sangat. With sangat you have the support and it feels more "powerful" somehow.
Our community was organized into "missals" (I don’t know the origin of the word). Basically we had 4-5 different groups of the sangat who would rotate doing different seva for the Gurdwara. One of the sevas was Langar on Sunday morning. So, about once a month our missal would meet at the old popular "Golden Temple Restaurant" (Which is not open anymore) and prepare langar for Sunday Gurdwara. I remember loving that time when all the street lights were just blinking yellow…and you could just drive right through without stopping in the car. This was at like 3am in the morning. I was pretty young, so after getting to the the restaurant (with my parents) I would crawl onto one of the benches inside and go to sleep.
The Sikh community at Guru Ram Das Ashram are still very active and host a huge annual Baisakhi celebration at the Los Angeles convention center (Coming soon!). This is a big festive occasion, so if you are in the Los Angeles area at the beginning of April definitely take part in it. The sangat there at Guru Ram Das Ashram is few in number but I think big in strength and dedication. Many people have moved to different areas (including Espanola) so there are fewer doing more work keeping things going.
The Gurdwara is really beautiful and has some amazing artwork. I recommend that you go for a visit if you are ever in the Los Angeles area. Why not go for the morning Yoga/Sadhana/Gurdwara too if you are feeling adventurous?
You can see some pictures that someone took while visiting. The title of the Gurdwara/gallery on the website is wrong though, and it is in West Los Angeles NOT Hollywood (though I guess Los Angeles and Hollywood are thought of hand in hand. Same with Beverly Hills which starts a few blocks over). LA is a big city! I love being there…but now love the quiet comfort of small town living in Espanola. There are always the pros and cons but we all find what works for us best.
BBC: Desi DNA – 3HO
This video shows some of the Los Angeles Gurdwara and Sangat.
Download – Video (19.5MB)