Tributes paid to temple president
by Peter Warzynski
One of the country's longest-running Sikh temple presidents has died while on holiday in India.
Omparkash Chand, 63, was in the Punjab visiting family and buying religious ornaments for the Shri Guru Ravidass Gurdwara, in Harrison Road, Leicester – where he had been president since 1997.
Colleagues said they believed he may have been the longest-serving head of a Sikh temple in the world.
Mr Chand died in his sleep on June 7 and was brought back to Leicester last Saturday.
However, a post-mortem examination could not determine a cause of death.
Tributes have poured in for the community leader, who lived in Scraptoft with his wife and son. Mr Chand's brother, Kamaljit Mahi, 53, said the family was shocked at the sudden death of the temple president.
"The post-mortem couldn't find a cause of death, but they've taken some tissue samples to see if they can determine what happened.
"It's a big shock and across the family we're all trying to help each other," he said.
"He was a good-natured person and will be sadly missed, not just by the Sikh community – but by Christians and Hindus. He did a lot of work with other people."
Friend and fellow temple member Dev Diwana said: "We believe he is the longest consecutive running president of a Sikh temple in the UK, if not the world.
"That's one of the most impressive things about him. He served the Sikh community with an open heart and he was a great man – he was a picture of calm.
"He'd only been in India for a few days before he died, but he had no health issues which anyone knew of."
Surinderpal Singh Rai, of Leicestershire Council of Gurdwaras, said: "Omprakash Chand was a very dear friend of mine.
"He tirelessly served the Sikh community for well over 40 years and the newly-built Shri Guru Ravidass Gurdwara is a testimony to this.
"He will be dearly missed."
Mr Chand's funeral is tomorrow.
His body will arrive at the Shri Guru Ravidass Gurdwara, at 11.15am, before leaving for Gilroes Cemetery at 11.45am.
It will arrive at the cemetery, in Groby Road, at about 12.15pm.