Malkiat Singh Hoonjan said he decided to take on the ambitious project last year after learning from a friend that the Sikh place of worship in Prince George didn’t have one. The gurdwara was building an expansion while closed due to COVID-19, but couldn’t find anyone to build the labour-intensive palki.
A palki is the canopied structure at the centre of a gurdwara where the Guru Granth Sahib — the sacred holy scriptures — reside.
“I’ve enjoyed doing this work and I love it because it’s for the community and that’s the community we all belong to,” Hoonjan told Global News.
Hoonjan said he has previously helped build some parts of a gurdwara, but has never taken on the challenge of a palki. He learned on the fly, working three to four hours per day with help from friends at Dominion Woodworking in Richmond.
Dozens of people eventually got involved and the golden palki, standing 12 feet tall, was completed in five months.
“It’s a little bit challenging with the time constraints but we were able to get it done,” said Harp Virdi with Dominion Woodworking.
The palki was shipped in bubble wrap to the Guru Nanak Darbar gurdwara in Prince George on May 14. It arrived, undamaged, on May 15 and took two days to assemble.
“You’ve got to put it in such a place, and after that all the jewellery goes on it too,” he explained.
Its assembly was followed by prayers in the palki, he added.
Hoonjan said he and his friends built the palki “as a service, as a hobby,” but they’re keenly aware that more requests for palkis are possible.
“It’s got to be in one piece” instructed Hoonjan on shipping day.
“My dad actually killed me on that,” he laughed. “He said, ‘If you go out there someone is going to say make us one too.'”
— With files from Elizabeth McSheffrey