LOS ANGELES: Ending years of factional infighting and legal battles, thousands of Sikhs in one of America's largest gurdwara in a Californian city have voted to elect their new leaders.
The mood at Gurdwara San Jose -- where 6,802 members are registered to vote -- was happy and optimistic as hundreds of voters stayed for hours after casting their ballots to chat and pray in anticipation of the results.
For years, the gurdwara probably has been known as much in Santa Clara County Court for the lawsuits filed between its litigious leaders as in the greater community for the congregation's religious and community activities.
Yesterday's election -- ordered by a superior court judge -- was largely a contest between two slates with clearly defined agendas, Mercury News reported.
While the incumbent faction contesting the election has promised continued growth and prosperity, the challengers have pledged honesty and accountability in running the place of worship.
Voters could cast ballots for up to 21 candidates of their choice. Retired county Judge Kevin Murphy monitored the election for the court.
"The people are showing up to speak their minds again," Summan Tersen Singh, an Applied Materials technician, said as he stood in a long line at The Sikh Gurdwara San Jose. "This is a good day for everyone here."
Sukhi Chahal, an engineer and founder of the non-profit Punjab Foundation, said the election results will be watched by gurdwaras across North America where disagreements too often end up in the courts.
"This was one of the most aggressive campaigns I have ever seen in the Bay Area," Chahal said. "There is a lot at stake here."