Two Sikh leaders from Dubai recently met with the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also visiting Welfare Square in Salt Lake City and touring the Washington D.C. Temple during its current open house.
Surender Singh Kandhari and Bubbles Kandhari met with the First Presidency on Friday, April 29, calling their time with President Russell M. Nelson, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring as “warm and hospitable.”
Also participating in the meeting with the First Presidency and the Kandharis were Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Jeffrey H. Singer of the Middle East/Africa North Area presidency and his wife, Sister Sandra Singer.
Bubbles Kandhari said the experience left her “speechless.”
“There are no words to describe how much love is there between all of you and how much love you have given us,” she said, as reported by ChurchofJesusChrist.org. “It was amazing, and we are really so happy and honored to be here.”
Surender Kandhari and Bubbles Kandhari — who are husband and wife — serve as chairman and vice-chairperson, respectively, of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, Dubai. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the gurdwara is the first Sikh temple in the United Arab Emirates and the largest in the Gulf region, hosting 50,000 devotees.
Said Elder Singer: “We have known Surender and Bubbles Kandhari for several years and have long admired their generous service to those in need, and their significant interfaith outreach. We’re grateful the First Presidency was able to visit with them and discuss the many things we share in common.”
While in Salt Lake City, the Kandharis also visited Welfare Square, learning about the Church’s efforts to help those in need.
Surender Kandhari acknowledged the commitment and dedication of the Church and its members in welfare, humanitarian and self-reliant efforts.
“We’re really proud to be associated with the Church and its Latter-day Saint Charities,” he said. “We have a joint program in Dubai where we serve the blue-collar people, the needy people. I think this is just the beginning. There is a lot more work to do.”
Added Bubbles Kandhari of the Welfare Square visit: “It was beyond any imagination. I couldn’t even think the extent to which you all go, the quality and the volunteers who are helping. It is not a small thing. It’s a huge effort and a huge organization.”
In Dubai, the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara offers the daily Sikh tradition of langar, a free vegetarian meal, to all who enter. Since its opening in 2012, the gurudwara has served free meals to over 8 million visitors.
The Kandharis’ Utah visit included a lunch with members of the state’s Sikh community and a visit to the Sikh Temple of Utah. Local Sikh representatives said they were honored to meet with the Kandharis.
“I know the service they are doing and what they are doing for the community there in Dubai,” said JB Singh, the chairman of the Sikh temple of Utah. “We feel proud that our Sikh people are coming and also enjoy when we are all together as members of the interfaith community.”
Prior to arriving in Salt Lake City, the Kandharis visited the Church’s Washington D.C. Temple. After undergoing extensive renovations recently, the temple is hosting a public open house, available for tours by visitors for the first time since 1974.
“It was an amazing experience,” Surender Kandhari said of their visit to the temple. “It shows the commitment of you to each other and the feeling of family.”
Bubbles Kandhari described the celestial room as “surreal.”
“It just connected immediately to sit down there quietly, without any sound,” she said. “You don’t want to get up from there. You just want to be there forever.”