SINGAPORE – The Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA) officially re-opened its doors on Saturday (Dec 30) after a two-year renovation which began in November 2014.
The $12 million make-over adds upgrades and new facilities to the new SKA building located at Tessensohn Road, where the previous SKA had been for more than 40 years.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was guest-of-honour at the building’s grand opening.
SKA president Mohinder Singh said a new building was needed to “meet current and future needs”.
In his welcome address, Mr Mohinder Singh, said: “We hope the enhanced building provides the ambience to attract both the young and old, families and friends from not only the Sikh community but the Singapore community which use the SKA for their events.”
The six-storey building has key features like two ballrooms, one with an enlarged floor space for larger banquets; three new lifts; new offices; a dance studio; new function rooms; and a gymnasium with glass walls.
Toilets for the disabled and ramps have also been added.
More reception spaces can now be found outside the ballrooms thanks to semi-circular extensions. A roof-top activity area overlooks the Balestier Plain fields.
The SKA, often regarded as the centre for cultural, social, educational and sporting needs of the Sikh community, is also seeing more “non-traditional” use of its facilities, said Mr Albel Singh, general manager of the association.
Prior to the 2014 renovation works, SKA was primarily used for Sikh weddings and receptions.
Mr Albel Singh told The Straits Times: “While weddings continue to be popular for 2018, there are also bookings and enquiries for annual general meetings, bazaars, group programmes, meditation classes and fashion shows at the association.”
DPM Tharman told guests at the event that the Sikh community has gone beyond serving its own.
He said: “In fact, the association’s premises itself has evolved into a meeting place for Singapore Sikhs to network among themselves, as well as with friends from the larger Singaporean community. Almost 70 per cent of bookings for the usage of SKA’s facilities are by non-Sikh individuals or organisations.”
The association’s yearly Vesakhi Mela, which celebrates the rich Sikh heritage and tradition, continues to attract more Singaporeans of other races to SKA.
Each April, multicultural teams compete in games and sports like soccer, netball and hockey during the Mela.
From its humble beginnings in 1931, when pioneer members had registered the association as a sports club, to the new building at Tessensohn Road, SKA has come a long way, said Mr Jaswant Singh Gill, 94.
The pioneer said he was proud of what SKA has achieved.
The first clubhouse in 1931 was a two-room wooden shack at Target Road close to Sungei Bendemeer.
Mr Singh Gill, who was from Raffles Institution, said: “My wish is for the younger generation to take up the patronage and see the association into the future.
“They have all the opportunities while we started with very little in 1931.”