Gurudwara getting ready for major celebrations

Gurudwara getting ready for major celebrations

Gurudwara getting ready for major celebrations

Thirteen months from now, the Patna Saheb Gurudwara will be ready to welcome around 10 lakh Sikh pilgrims from across the globe who will congregate at the Takht Sri Harmandirji to celebrate the 350th birth anniversary of 10th Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

Perceived to be the second most important religious seat of Sikhs after the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Harmandir Sahib shrine, constructed with white marble, will be reverberating on January 5, 2017 when Sikhs around the world will descend here to pay their tributes to Guru Gobind Ji.

The 10th Sikh Guru, who was initially known as Gobind Rai, was born to Guru Tegh Bahadur and Mata Gujri. He spent the first eight years of his childhood playing and learning here. The birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh is, however, in the crowded Patna Saheb area which is, at times, giving nightmares to the organisers who wonder whether lakhs of people will be able to successfully pay homage to Guru in this congested zone.

It is said that the gurudwara building, spread over 5.14 acres of land, was destroyed in a fire in 1839. The then ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839) took up the cudgels to rebuild it with a modern design. Sadly, Ranjit Singh passed away before its completion. Tragedy struck again when a portion of gurudwara fell down in the massive earthquake which hit Bihar in 1934. The present building came into being in 1954 after years of re-construction.

According to one estimate, around 3.5 lakh pilgrims visit Harmandir Sahib gurdwara every year. The average flow of tourists comes to around 5,000 to 25,000 depending on the religious function and tourist season. This may be relatively less compared to Amritsar where nearly two lakh pilgrims visit daily, but still Harmandir Sahib gurudwara is considered to be the second most sacred place for Sikh community.

In view of the coming 350th birth anniversary celebration, the Harmandir Sahib gurudwara is being given a facelift. Given the fact that Patna falls in seismic zone-5, work is on to make the Sikh temple earthquake-resistant. Engineers and experts, who were involved in the construction of the Akshardham Temple in Delhi, have been hired for renovation work. The renovation work includes construction of an underground parking facility for 160 vehicles.

“At present, only the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara and Gurudwara Sahib in Delhi have parking facilities. Takht Harmandir Sahib will be one of the few gurudwaras to have parking facility,” said Daljit Singh, president of the shrine here.

Besides parking, the intricate golden work carved on the walls of the Golden Temple – is also being replicated at the Harmandir Sahib shrine. Artists from Rajasthan have been hired to do gold carving on the ceiling.

“Gold leaf and glass work have been designed for the ceiling and the walls around the parikrama path (the route through which devotees pass within the main shrine),” explained an office-bearer of the shrine.

Harmandir Sahib temple assumes all the more significance because of the treasures in Guru’s museum. Among the most precious collection is the holy book Guru Granth Sahib written by Guru Gobind Ji. Signed by him, the book is put on display once a year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti (January14). “Apart from the holy book, we have a collection of 68 hukum-namas or edicts written in Gurmukhi and Persian by Guru Teg Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh,” said Daljeet Singh.

Inside the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine are weapons used by Guru Gobind Singh during his childhood days. These include a small sword, four iron arrows made by Guru himself, two different types of daggers, a small tiger claw made of steel. These objects are kept in an ornamental glass box.

In another box, two pairs of khadaun (traditional slippers) used by the 9th and 10th gurus are also kept. Similarly, a dress used by Guru Gobind Singh is also one of the treasured artefacts.

Given the rich cultural, historical and religious significance of this shrine, the jathedars (head priests) of four Sikh takhts (holiest shrine) met here some time back and took stock of the ongoing preparations for the celebration of 350th birth anniversary of  the 10th Guru. The jathedar of Akal Takht, Amritsar, Gurbachan Singh appealed to the members of the Sikh community to generously donate 10 per cent of their income so that the event at Patna Saheb becomes successful and memorable.

While making an appeal to the Nitish regime as well as the Centre for extending all possible assistance, Singh said the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC), the Punjab Government and the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) have assured all help to make Guru’s 350th birth anniversary successful.

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