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Sikhs flock to Flushing temple for glimpse of holy man

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Sikhs from all corners of Queens and some from farther away flocked to Flushing last weekend to hear Sant Baba Ranjit Singh Ji, a popular and youthful holy man, sing at the Sikh Center of Flushing.

Traffic slowed to a crawl along Parsons Boulevard near the gurdwara, possibly so that drivers could take in the enormous tent adorned with arcs of colored balloons where the 23-year-old Sant Baba Ranjit Singh Ji sang and chanted to the faithful throngs.

Children offered chilled cans of soda to drivers who slowed or stopped near the temple, and passers-by were handed plates of spiced watermelon to eat as they watched or continued past.

Sant Baba Ranjit Singh Ji had been very ill as a child, and his parents took him to a holy man for advice and treatment, after which the illness cleared up, one worshiper explained.

"He's a religious leader reviving a Sikh renaissance," said Gurpal Singh, a staffer for state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans). "When he comes out, they all come out."

The 23-year-old has made appearances throughout the tri-state area and East Coast, including Sikh centers in Queens Village, Richmond Hill, Connecticut, New Jersey, Milwaukee and Baltimore, as part of a tour that began Aug. 22 and lasts through Sept. 6.

He is something of a recording star under the name Dhadrianwale, with dozens of Web pages linking to his music and video clips of his performances. His music spreads a message to warn both young and old Sikhs away from the ravages of drugs, alcohol and tobacco abuse, according to SikhiWiki.com, a Sikh Web site.

Worshipers walked barefoot to the front of the tent where Sant Baba Ranjit Singh Ji sang, prostrated themselves, then returned to their seats. The women sat together with children on one brightly pastel-colored side of the tent; the men opposite them with more somber-colored turbans and patkas in white, saffron, navy, maroon and blue.

Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 6:37 pm, October 10, 2011
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