Monday, November 19, 2007

Polution Threat to Harimandir Sahib

The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) should take immediate steps to control pollution around Golden Temple. SGPC should frame a policy within the next three or four months for initiating steps for controlling pollution caused by the use of fire crackers in the temple complex. Authorities concerned should also take preventive measure to control pollution created by the small scale industries situated around the temple.

Sri Harimandir Sahib, also known as Sri Darbar Sahib or Golden Temple is named after Hari(God) the temple of God. The Sikhs all over the world, daily wish to pay visit to Amritsar and to pay obeisance at Sri Harimandir Sahib in their Ardas.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Punjab Pollution Control Board, which had been monitoring the environment around the Golden Temple, found high levels of harmful nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide in the ambient air. The experts had also cautioned that fireworks release these gases which could react with marble leading to its corrosion and blackening. The miniature paintings and gold plating are also under threat from the harmful gases, the experts added. The recent study was an eye opener that fireworks at the shrine complex could cause such a damaging effect on the Harmandir Sahib.

It was difficult to change the 400-year old tradition but the SGPC authorities should discuss the issue so that the shrine could be saved from being damaged.

Tight security in Pakistan for Indian Sikh jatha

Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) has made unprecedented security arrangements for Sikh devotees visiting Pakistan on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 24. According to sources, the heightened security is in the wake of emergency declared in Pakistan and apprehensions that terrorists from North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan may infiltrate Lahore during the visit of devotees from around the world.

Various security agencies like security branch, crime investigation agency and ISI are expected to monitor movements of the Sikh jatha. "We believe they will permanently station their spies in gurdwaras as long as the Sikh jatha stays in Pakistan," says sources. Those Sikh who have been illegally staying in Pakistan’s gurdwaras will also be watched and may be asked to leave the country, say sources.
Meanwhile, PSGPC will also bring an inter-faith delegation to India to strengthen religious bonds between the two nations. "Pakistan government has made unprecedented security arrangements for the arrival of some 20,000 Sikhs from around the world, including 3,000 from NWFP and 7,000 from Sindh," informs Bishan Singh, president PSGPC on the phone from Lahore on Saturday.
Informing that he will lead the inter-faith delegation to India in December to promote peace, Singh adds, "The delegation will include religious representatives of Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Christians from Pakistan and they will hold meetings with leaders of different faiths in India."
Stating that adequate security arrangements were in place, Sadiq Khurram, the newly-appointed organizing secretary of Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board, a parent body of PSGPC, adds, "We expect all religious festivities to pass off peacefully."
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Avtar Singh Makkar says that the Sikh jatha, led by former SGPC president Kabal Singh Theenda, will leave for Lahore on a special Sikh pilgrim train from Attari international railway station on November 21. The jatha was earlier scheduled to leave on November 19, but following a change in programme by PSGPC, it was postponed by two days.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Punjabi wedding hot on India and Punjab tourism

India's only planned city, Chandigarh, has been projected as an ideal destination to get married at the ongoing World Travel Mart (WTM) in London to cash in on the craze for the big, fat Punjabi wedding among non-resident Indians (NRIs) and foreigners.

"Chandigarh tourism has decided to adopt more novel and innovative measures like wedding tourism to promote the city as the tourism hub of north India," the city's Home and Tourism Secretary Krishna Mohan, who is visiting the WTM, said Wednesday.

He said wedding ceremonies could be facilitated in collaboration with hotels and resorts in and around the city.

"Indian weddings are occasions to behold and Chandigarh is particularly known for its glamorous and graceful wedding ceremonies. European visitors in particular relish such occasions and Chandigarh tourism is in the process of facilitating more foreign visitors for these ceremonies," the home secretary said.

Mohan said that Chandigarh was not only a tourist attraction for its architectural beauty but also for medical and sports tourism. The city had excellent facilities for golf, tennis, cricket and other sports.
Chandigarh has recently been placed on the tentative list of World heritage sites by UNESCO, becoming the first Indian city to make it to the list.

For any enquiry for Punjabi Theme wedding, ask at

Why do Sikhs celebrate Diwali ?

The festival of Divali is an important event for most of the South Asian community. For Hindus it represents the day when the mythological god King Rama came back to his capital after 12 years of exile. Rama’s subjects were so happy to see him that they lit divas (lamps) and set of firecrackers in honour of the event. Even today Hindus celebrate this event with great happiness and joy. On this day they worship fire and the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

Why do Sikhs celebrate Divali? When we look into most history books, we can gather that the reason that Divali is celebrated is as follows :

After the torture and death of Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji, by the order of Jahangir (the emperor of India at the time), the Mogul administration started to become uneasy due to the sudden popularity of Sikhism. Chandu, an advisor of Jahangir, was the one who had suggested the torture of Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji. He suddenly felt threatened at the popularity of the Sikhs and decided to advise the king to get rid of the next Guru of the Sikhs as well. Jahangir decided that this was a good idea and summoned Guru Hargobind Ji to his court where he had Guru Ji imprisoned in Gwalior fort where 52 innocent Hindu Princes were imprisoned as well. During imprisonment, the Guru noticed that all the princes were depressed and forlorn with their treatment in the jail and were in very unhealthy conditions. The Guru helped the princes regain their health and taught them spiritually. When the Guru was granted freedom, he refused to leave until he had gained the release of the 52 Hindu kings too. The emperor then said that all those princes that could hold on the Guru’s clothes would be liberated as well. Guru Ji had a special cloak made which had 52 strings sewed on it and each prince held on to a string. Thus all prisoners were freed. It was in this respect that Guru Hargobind became known as “Bandi Chor” or the Releaser of Prisoners. When Guru Ji reached Amritsar, it was Divali day and Sikhs celebrated the homecoming of the Guru by lighting diyas. To this day Sikhs celebrate Divali and in honour of Guru Hargobind Ji and his return.

So, it’s really quite simple. Sikhs do have their own Diwali … right? Maybe not.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Guru Granth Sahib consecration celebrations at Hazur Sahib, Nanded from November 15.

Year-long celebrations to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the consecration of the Sikh religious book, Guru Granth Sahib and heavenly journey of Guru Gobind Singh will commence on November 15 at Nanded Sahib in Maharashtra, one of the five most sacred and important Sikh shrines. A few days before passing away on October 7, 1708, Guru Gobind Singh ended the practice of appointing an individual as guru and declared the holy book as the eternal guru of the Sikhs. The consecration of the Guru Granth Sahib as the permanent guru and source of spiritual inspiration and passing away of the last individual guru are the landmark events of the Sikh history and religion and that makes Nanded so important.

Head of the Nanded Gurudwara Board, told reporters here on Monday that over 40 lakh devotees from all over the world were expected to reach Nanded during the year in October next year to participate in the main celebrations at the Gurudwara, Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib one of the Panj Takhts, on the banks of the Godavari.

He said the celebrations would begin with observing November 15 as ‘Simran Diwas,’ on which people of all religions are called upon to pray or remember God according to their own religious practice to mark the Guru’s message of one god and welfare of the entire mankind. He said ‘Jagriti Yatra’ would commence from Nanded with a view to spreading the teachings of the Sikh gurus enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib.

The yatra would go to a large number of places all over the country. It will have weapons of Guru Gobind Singh for darshan.

Hazur Sahib, Nanded, yatra with

Welsh race body backs Sikh girl who was barred from school over kada

Sarika Watkins-Singh, the Sikh teenager who has been excluded from her school in south Wales for refusing to remove the kada, a symbol of Sikhism, has been backed by the local race equality council.

Sarika, who decided to become a practising Sikh after a visit to Amritsar in 2005, has decided to mount a legal challenge against the school's decision that, she believes, amounted to infringing her human rights.

Sarika was sent home on Monday by the Aberdare Girls School, south Wales. According to the school, wearing the kada is against regulations because it is a piece of jewellery. The school is known for strictly enforcing rules. After the case hit the headlines, Sarika has found support from the Valleys Race Equality Council. Its director, Ron Davies, told the media, "We are supporting Sarika, and believe the school is acting unlawfully by refusing to let her wear the bangle.
"We have arranged for her to be represented by a solicitor and an application will be made to the High Court for a judicial review of the school's decision. We believe the school is acting in contravention both of the 1976 Race Relations Act and of human rights legislation.
"We also believe there is a need for the guidance on these issues to schools from the Welsh Assembly Government to be more explicit." According to advice given to the council by the the Equality and Human Rights Commission, "Legal precedence has previously been set which clearly recognises Sikhs as a racial group for the purpose of the Race Relations Act. Therefore, the school should consider carefully their actions in relation to this case.

"The wearing of a kada bangle is a significant expression of faith. Although some issues can be taken into consideration such as health and safety, the school would be expected to be proportionate in its response to the requirement to wear a kada bangle. "For example, the school could require the bangle to be covered or removed during PE. However, it would find it more difficult to justify this requirement where the student is sitting at her desk in the classroom."

In a legal precedent dating to 1983, the House of Lords had decided that a school had acted unlawfully by refusing to accept as a pupil a Sikh boy who wore a turban. The judgment held that Sikhs were a racial group within the terms of the Race Relations Act, and were capable of being discriminated against.

Sarika's mother, Sanita Watkins-Singh, told the Western Mail, "Sarika made her first visit to India in 2005, looking at her cultural background and her roots. I don't believe in putting pressure on children to follow a certain religion, but Sarika decided for herself that she wanted to be a practising Sikh.
"Her views have crystallised over the last six months, and she started wearing the kada. At first it didn't seem to be a problem, but then a PE teacher asked her to remove it. Later, after she refused to remove it in class, she was isolated from the rest of the girls. Then this week she was sent home."
Sarika said, "We went to quite a lot of places during my visit to India, including the Golden Temple in Amritsar, which was just amazing. I became very interested in Sikh history and was inspired to follow the religion." "The kada is a very important Sikh symbol and a constant reminder to me to do good, and that God is One. I am very disappointed that my school does not recognise my right to wear the kada. I did not like being put into isolation, which to me was like a prison. I feel my education was suffering.

"On Monday I was sent home for the day, and now I have been told I will be excluded for a fixed period. We are waiting for a letter saying how long that will be. It is very unfair that I am not being allowed to follow my religion, and I want to challenge the decision."

Jane Rosser, head teacher of Aberdare Girls' School, said, "We have a strict and clear code of conduct that has been in place for many years. A copy is given to all girls before they are even a pupil at the school and is also issued at the start of every new term in September.
"We use this established code of conduct to ensure equality between all pupils. The code clearly states the only two forms of jewellery that girls are allowed to wear in school is a wrist watch and one pair of plain metal stud earrings."

Visit Golden Temple, Amritsar with

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pak emergency hinders Sikh pilgrims' visit

The imposition of emergency in Pakistan has come as a damper for Sikh pilgrims planning to visit Pakistan for the 539th birth anniversary celebrations of first Sikh master Guru Nanak Dev. Intelligence officials here are of view that apart from a strict watch being kept on movement of Sikh devotees visiting neighbouring country, there is all likelihood of Pakistan government not issuing adequate visas to Sikhs in wake of the internal law and order situation there.

Nearly 3,000 Sikh devotees from India visit Pakistan on Guru Nanak's birth anniversary and 10,000 arrive from other countries. Sikh bodies have urged Pakistan president Pervez Musharaff not let the political turmoil in the country affect the religious occasion and to ensure security cover to visiting Sikh pilgrims.

Bhishan Singh, president of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), told TOI over phone from Lahore on Sunday “It is a religious function, and I think there won't be any kind of interruption in religious ceremonies.”

Not ruling out the possibility of Pakistan High Commission denying visas to several Sikh devotees owing to internal problems, Daljit Singh Bedi, additional secretary, SGPC, said it was the Pakistan government's duty to provide adequate security cover to pilgrims.

Plan Pakistan Gurudwara Tours through Sikhtourism.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shri Guru Granth Sahib to be translated into English

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has announced that it will get the task of translating the Guru Granth Sahib in English done. The decision was taken in the meeting of Dharam Parchar Committee (DPC) of SGPC. Avtar Singh Makkar, SGPC president, said the decision has been taken to spread the philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib. He said for this purpose services of Sikh scholars - Jaswant Singh Neki and Jodh Singh - will be taken.

Earlier, a sting operation had brought to a halt the DSGMC's bid to get the Adi Granth translated when it was found that many among the translator scholars couldnot even read Punjabi. At that time, spy cameras were used by certain Sikh organisations to bring out how the translation/transliteration was done by one Vemaraju Bhanu Murti, a Telugu-speaking person. Later, the DSGMC's then chief Parmjit Singh Sarna had withdrawn the work from Murti.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

First ever Agan Bhent Seva Samagam in South India draws huge crowds

HYDERABAD, Thursday, October 11, 2007 : Amidst chanting of shabad keertan, several old volumes of Guru Granth Sahibji and other religious books that cannot be used anymore for reading purpose because they are too old weathered were consigned to flames as per Sikh Maryada at the newly-constructed Angitha Saheb under the guidance of Baba Narinder Singhji of Goindwal Saheb. Prominent Sikh leaders, including Akal Takht Sahib Jathedar Giani Joginder Singhji Vedanti and Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar and head granthi of Darbar Sahib, Amritsar Singh Sahib Giani Gurbachan Singh participated in the landmark event.
The Sikh community of South India, with the approval of Akal Takht Sahib, the supreme temporal body of the Sikhs, performed the first ‘Agan Bhent Seva Samagam’ on Sunday. As many as 160 old swaroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and other places were brought to Hyderabad for the ritual.
The SGPC president also inaugurated the state-of-the-art Guru Nanak Medical Centre at the Gurudwara Sahib, Secunderabad. The centre was established by the the management committee of Gurdwara Sahib, Secunderabad and Guru Nanak Charitable Trust at a cost of over Rs 1 crore.
Treatment will be provided free of cost to those who cannot afford to pay, irrespective of caste and creed or religion. Those who can afford will have to pay 25 percent of the incurred cost and this will go to help maintain the centre.
Secunderabad MP Anjan Kumar Yadav, City Police Commissioner Balwinder Singh, Controller Legal Metrology Tejdeep Kaur, president of Prabhandak Committee Gurdwara Saheb, Secunderabad Baldev Singh Singh Bagga and general secretary Avtar Singh were present on the occasion.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Gurudwara Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo

Damdama means the breathing or resting place. Damdama Sahib is one of the Five Takhts of the Sikhs. (The other four Takhts are Akal Takht, Amritsar, Takht Keshgarh Sahib, Anandpur, Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded (Maharashtra) and Takht Harmandir Sahib Patna (Bihar). It is located at village Talwandi Sabo, 28 km southeast of Bathinda. It is also known as Talwandi Sabo and Guru Ki Kashi. Guru Gobind Singh stayed here after fighting battles against Mughal atrocities. Before his arrival at Talwandi, two of the Guru’s sons were bricked alive at Sarhind and two laid down their lives at Chamkaur Sahib. After writing Zafarnama, Guru Gobind Singh fought a successful battle at Muktsar and then moved towards Talwandi Sabo Ki.

For Damdama Sahib Tour details, visit :

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sikh Panj Takht Tour

The Five Takhts (Panj Takht) :'Takht' which literally means a throne or seat of authority is a result of historical growth of Sikhism. There are five Takhts and these Takhts are the five gurudwaras which have a very special significance for the Sikh community. The first and the most important one was established by Guru Hargobind in 1609. It is called 'Akal Takht' (the Throne of the Timeless God) and is situated just opposite the gate of Harmandar Sahib - The Golden Temple, Amritsar. The Guru established it, because he thought that secular political matters should not be considered in the Golden Temple, which is meant purely for worship of God. Here the Guru held his court and decided matters of military strategy and political policy. Later on, the Sikh commonwealth (Sarbat Khalsa) took decisions here on matters of peace and war and settled disputes between the various Sikh groups. The Sarangi singers sung the ballads of the Sikh Gurus and warriors at this place and robes of honour (saropas) were awarded to persons who rendered distinguished services of the community of men in general.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Punjab becoming education hub

Punjab, which is known as agriculture state, is now getting another identity as an education hub of North India. Students unable to get admissions in well-known colleges in Delhi have been coming to Punjab for higher studies due to the heavy investment by the private sector in higher education. Apart from Punjab Technical University, which has a vast network of colleges all over the state, new private university, Lovely Professional University has also become popular among students from all over the country. It recently attained the status of the first professional university of Punjab. The university is running more than 50 courses, including those in engineering, management, information technology and pharmacy. 
For the last few years, the private sector has shown a keen interest in promoting higher education in Punjab. They have opened many big campuses in cities in Punjab to provide world class education along with placement opportunities after completion of the course. In the coming years, a school of excellence in engineering will be opened in Jalandhar through a collaboration of UK-based Caparo Group, owned by industrialist Lord Swaraj Paul, and Punjab Technical University. 
There are five universities in Punjab — Guru Nanak Dev University, Punjab Technical University, Punjab University, Punjabi University and Baba Farid Medical University. 
Due to being a hub for non-residential Indians, several international educational institutions have links in Jalandhar. 
The Cambridge University of London has already given affiliation to two of the city's schools and from the forthcoming academic session, the first Canadian school in the country will be opened here. 
As a rule, PTU gives 15 per cent of its seats to students from other states provided they have cleared the national entrance exam of AIEEE. 

Punjab Tours :

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Phulkari, embroidery art of Punjab

Phulkari, an art of decorating shawls, dupattas with embroidered floral motifs developed in the 15th century in Punjab. Phulkari, is a skillful manipulation of single stitch that provides interesting pattern on the cloth. The smaller the stitch, finer is the quality of the embroidery. The silk threads in golden yellow, red, crimson, orange, green, blue, and pink are usually employed for the embroidery. The notable aspect of this technique is that single strand was used at a time, each part worked in one color and the varied color effect is obtained by clever use of horizontal, vertical or diagonal stitches.
The base cloth that was used for Phulkari in olden times was usually homespun cloth. In Phulkari when the design is worked very closely that  even a square inch of the base cloth is not visible then it is called 'Bagh'.  Besides floral motifs, birds, animals, human figures, vegetables, pots, buildings, rivers, the sun and the moon, scenes of village life, and other imagery were embroidered. Mention must be made of dhaniya bagh (coriander garden), motia bagh (jasmine garden), satranga bagh (garden of rainbow), leheria bagh (garden of waves) and many other depictions. Young women in Punjab often created Phulkari for their trousseau. Many folk songs on Phulkari are part of Punjab culture.
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Friday, June 29, 2007

Indian Idol Sikh Style: Hunt for kirtan stars

On Sunday, June 24, 2007 evening in Kolkata was the final of a talent hunt with a difference. The show, modelled on Indian Idol, tried to identify the "gurbani kirtan talent of the year".  At Sant Kutiya Gurdwara, Bhowanipore, the 10 finalists went head-to-head for the tuned-in ears of the judges, all of whom are experts in devotional music. An audience poll was also conducted.

The event was organised by Sikh Heritage, a group of youths who spread the message of Sikhism across the country. It was sponsored by Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and Sant Kutiya Gurdwara Committee, Calcutta.

"The competition had three rounds, with only the best in each round making it to the next. Unlike in other kirtan competitions, the participants got to sing before a huge audience. The original forms of the kirtans were sung," stated Manvika Uberoi of Sikh Heritage. Over 175 singers took part in the preliminary round, held at the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad auditorium, on Shakespeare Sarani. Over 130 of the contestants were from the city. The outstation participants came from Asansol, Ranigunj, Sambalpur, Durgapur and other towns. The singers were divided into three groups, according to their age: Group A for those up to 15, Group B for those between 15 and 19 years and Group C for singers 19 and above. After the preliminary round, 32 contestants were shortlisted for the semi-finals, which were held at Gurdwara Sant Kutiya on Friday and Saturday. Four of the semi-finalists were non-Sikhs — three Bengalis and another singer from Bihar. All the contestants were trained for 10 days before the semi-finals. The three Bengalis made it to the finals.

The winner from each group will get a cash prize of Rs 10,000 and a chance to perform in and outside the city, including at the Golden Temple. Singing kirtan at the Golden Temple is considered a great honour. One of the three will become the "gurbani kirtan talent of the year" in the city.
Music director Bholanath Mukhopadhyay was one of the judges. The other judges were from Amritsar and are associated with the Golden Temple. According to Uberoi, the competition was an attempt to make traditional music popular among Sikh youths.
Sikh Culture news : 

Monday, June 18, 2007

Amritsar joins race with Chandigarh for India's first smoke-free city

Amritsar that houses the sacred Golden Temple for the Sikhs worldwide is in contention with Chandigarh to become country's first smoke free city.

Groups like Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) have demanded to make Amritsar become smoke-free city before July 1, since Chandigarh administration is working to get the city declared smoke free by that date.

In a letter to Chief Minister S. Parkash Singh Badal, the patron of the group Dr. Charanjit Singh Gumtala urged the former to take urgent steps in this direction. According to media report Chandigarh will have designated smoking areas at all public places and buildings to ensure that smoking is restricted and the general public is not forced to passively inhale smoke. The groups are stating that Amritsar deserves first smoke-free city status because it is the holy city and is known as Mecca of the Sikhs, where Guru Granth Sahib -the holy Sikh scripture- was written.

Keeping the importance of the holy city, smoking and meat shops were banned around the 200 meters periphery of the Golden Temple in 1982. Besides protecting children and other citizens from the harmful consequences of tobacco and smoking, such an initiative will improve the global image of the Amritsar and will be helpful in promoting transport, tourism and business.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Punjabi Jutti most popular in holy city of Amritsar

Punjabi Jutti (footwear of Punjabi style) has become thriving business to its manufacturer due to its aggressive demand in the market. Presently Punjabi Jutti makers getting orders in bulk form all over the India and abroad.
Amritsar is one of the Asia's biggest market around the holiest Sikh shrine Golden Temple where the Punjabi Jutti being manufactured in large scale and being exported to foreign countries like UK, America, Germany, Canada, Switzerland Singapore and Hongkong.
Punjabi Jutti was known for its immaculate embroidery and varied hues, which made it a popular, wear for the people of the region for all types of occasions. Punjabi Jutti is also known as century-old tradition. In foreign countries where having sizable population of Punjabi people have great demand of Punjabi Jutti from the holy city Amritsar. Now foreigners have also sheer demand for Punjabi footwear in foreign lands from Amritsar.  Since these footwear are easy to wear and more comfortable. In rural and urban Punjab majority of the masses including female and old aged people especially prefer to use Punjabi Jutti due to its comfort.
Balwant Singh Majithia a leading Punjabi Jutti manufacturer said, " This is his third generation in this profession and he manufacture different style of Punjabi Jutti on demand and one has to keep wait for one month. Moreover due to the summer season there is hot sale of Punjabi Jutti throughout out the Punjab and traders are coming from Delhi and Mumbai to place him order in bulk.
Now Punjabi Jutti becoming traditional footwear in the border town Amritsar and its surrounding area even neighboring states also following the same trend, informed Majithia. The graceful style of Punjabi jutti made with soft leather consisting artistic work on it being preferred by the young ladies too during social gathering. Now such footwear could also be seen in the fashion show as well as in the Bollywood industry, now it has become the essential items of cultural show. Even all the TV smalls screen plays also showing such footwear on marriage occasions.
Even it was the most favorite footwear of former Indian President Gyani Zail Singh, said Balwant Singh Majithia a Punjabi Jutti manufacturer  The elegant style, beautiful designs and soft leather of the footwear are attracting the fashion lovers everywhere, said Harjinder Singh trader.
The cost of ladies Punjabi jutti starts from Rupees two hundred to three thousand.The traditional teela, zeri wali and Sundi embroidery with Golden Thread has the look and designs is a magnet for any traditional fashion lover. A rough estimate, a dozen shopkeepers in Amritsar are engaged in the Punjabi Jutti business and their turn over is in tune of ten crore.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Patiala all set to regain past glory

Patiala is all set to restore its pristine glory and grandeur. Huge funds are being spent and the old heritage buildings are being refurbished and restored to its original glory.
Official sources say the state government has drawn up a series of plans to develop Patiala as a major tourist destination since the city is studded with palaces, museums and gardens, encompassing rich cultural and traditional architecture.
Sheranwala Gate, an ancient monument, would be rebuilt with its original grandeur and design with inbuilt gurdwara, temple, church and a mosque as a testimony to the age old cultural and secular values of the erstwhile princely state of Patiala.
The Mohindra Kothi has already been spruced up and now houses the newly established Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law from the current academic session. This is a temporary arrangement and the university will be shifted to its own campus soon. The building, which once housed the head offices of the Punjab Public Works Department, would be preserved and conserved as a heritage site along with "Maiji di Serai". The state government is also committed to preserve the landmark monuments marking the rich historical past like the Qila Mubarak, Old Moti Bagh Palace, Sheesh Mahal and Bahadurgarh fort as Patiala has been declared as counter magnet town under the NCR plan.
Patiala had historic gates built by the erstwhile rulers of this princely state. Now, the state has lost many of the gates owing to official neglect. These included the Lahori Gate, Sheranwala Gate, and Saifabadi Gate.There is a popular demand for the restoration of these gates. The Samania Gate, which was damaged a couple of years back, get repaired under the supervision of experts. Sirhindi Gate, near the Patiala-Rajpura road, was also reinforced almost seven years back when a portion of the roof of the gate came crashing following incessant rains. This gate has also got repaired and given a fresh lick of paint.
The sources said the Heritage Society had decided to take up the restoration of all historic gates. It was proposed to request corporate and industry houses besides other establishments to sponsor the maintenance of these gates.
Punjab Tour, Patiala Tours : 

Monday, May 28, 2007

Iraq keen to re-build damaged Sikh Gurudwara

Iraq is keen to rebuild a historic Sikh shrine commemorating Guru Nanak's visit to Baghdad, which had been destroyed by "fanatics" after the invasion of the country by US-led coalition forces, a top leader said on Friday.
Iraqi National Congress chief Ahmed Chalabi, one of Iraq's prominent leaders, who drove down through the desolate streets of Baghdad to the sacred Sikh site last night under heavy military protection, said "it has unfortunately been wiped out by fanatics because they thought it was against Islam". "It's shameful they cannot respect someone who has millions of followers," he told PTI at the gurdwara site along the river Tigris.
Iraqi officials escorting Chalabi informed him about the original design of the gurdwara that was built alongside the tomb of a Muslim religious leader, which has suffered no damage. "We will rebuild it," Chalabi said even as he admitted he did not know that a Sikh shrine had ever existed in Baghdad, which houses the Indian embassy.
The Iraqi leader, seen as close to the Bush administration, ruled out the possibility of the gurdwara being destroyed in military fire. "It was a mortar attack by some fanatic," he said, adding he believed it would have happened after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
News reports during the Iraq war had suggested the gurdwara had suffered damage in the attack, but there has been no official confirmation until now from Iraq about its condition. The visit to the site revealed complete destruction of the shrine. Chalabi, who broke the lock at the gate of the shrine's compound to inspect the site, pointed out that the shrine's marble floor had been pulled out and its roof razed to the ground.
Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who accompanied him, also requested immediate rebuilding of the gurdwara.
According to Sikh history, Guru Nanak, the founder of the faith, visited Baghdad and had a discourse with Bahlol Dana, a sufi teacher. The gurdwara commemorating the Guru's visit lies near what is now a devastated railway station in Baghdad. "The Sikh community has contributed a lot to Iraq. They have worked here in railways, construction and a lot of other activities. We respect them and will see to it that this is rebuilt," Chalabi said.
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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gatka - an ancient Sikh martial art

The exact beginnings of Gatka are not clear. What is clear is that it emerged formally from its original birthplace in northern India during the times of the 6th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Hargobind Sahib (early 1600s), who learnt and instructed his Sikhs to learn the martial art. However, Gatka existing long before then. Some have said that Gatka is the original grandparent of all modern martial arts which came out of northern India towards China.
The Sikhs mastered Gatka and perfected its use in battle. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of battles were decisively won by the Sikhs, despite almost always numbering far fewer than the opposing forces. The techniques within Gatka were combined with the spiritual practices of the Sikhs to create a perfect fighting system. Opposing forces are documented to have cursed the awesome Warrior Saints that the Sikhs were!
The Sikhs actively used Gatka in warfare for over 200 years, until they finally enjoyed peace under their own rule, free from persecution from the power-hungry Mughals who rested only when they were defeated. Since then, Gatka has been passed down as a tradition amongst the Sikh generations. With the emigration of Sikhs to western countries such as the UK, Gatka has grown again in the hearts and minds of the new generation of Sikhs. Now, in the 21st century, western martial artists are slowly beginning to recognise and enquire about Gatka. Such interest has forced the need for websites such as to educate the world about the formidable art of Gatka.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Treat Anglo-Sikh war as first: MPs

Disagreeing with the view that 1857 was the First War of Independence, Tarlochan Singh, Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana, today said that it was a part of the movement for independence.
Tarlochan Singh, who was accompanied by Shiromani Akali Dal MPs Rattan Singh Ajnala and Virender Singh Bajwa, said that the 1845 Anglo-Sikh war was the fiercest battle against the Britishers.
He said the government was observing on a grand scale the 150th anniversary of the 1857 war but "no such functions were held during the centenary year in 1957 when Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was the Prime Minister."
The MP said they respected the 1857 martyrs and wanted that all those who were part of the movement should be paid respects. The MPs said they had raised the matter in the Parliament and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal had supported their views.
Atwal argued that projection of 1857 as the First War of Independence was a "misnomer" as the Anglo-Sikh war preceded that.
The protest came midway through the function addressed by the President, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee. It was attended by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, leader of opposition L.K. Advani, ministers, MPs and senior leaders.
The Vice-President, who had risen to address the gathering, was caught unawares when Atwal raised the issue.
Tarlochan Singh and Bajwa later said the 1845 war, led by Sikh General Shyam Singh Attariwala, has to be treated as the first War of Independence.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Face of Holy City Amritsar set to change

Face of Holy City Amritsar set to change
The much-hyped proposal of setting up the Amritsar Development Authority (ADA) on the patterns of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) will be a reality now. Though the formal announcement will be made by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on May 5, the SAD-BJP government has taken the decision to float the body for the overall development of the Holy City, which is plagued by inadequate infrastructure.
ADA would work with a "future vision". The Golden Temple, Durgiana Temple, Jallianwala Bagh and Wagah border attract pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. The city had long been neglected for being on the border. But now there will be a body of the people and for the people which will set an agenda of the overall planned growth. Though rules and regulations are yet to be framed, but ADA would be a civic body with maximum participation of the people. It's working has to be transparent and people-oriented and administration staff has to be well-acquaint with the future need of the city,
The city needs infrastructure. The roads are in bad shape… pilgrims and tourists are shocked over pathetic transport system, parking places and lack of enough hotels and restaurants. There has to be focused plan for the city,
Welcoming the move, Citizens' Forum and Amritsar Vikas Manch said they hope that expert and honest bureaucrats would be appointed in the ADA so that the history of the city remains intact. "The political interference has to be checked and the ADA should be answerable to the public," said a spokesman.
Besides streamlining city's traffic, more hotels should be set up and Rajasansi International Airport should be modernised, he added.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Punjab to follow Rajasthan's footsteps in Tourism

In an attempt not just to boost tourism but retain the rich cultural heritage of Punjab, the old palaces and forts in the state are on their way to resurrection. The Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board has identified palaces and havelis ' across the state that would be restored and run on a public-private partnership mode.

The Tourism Department, Punjab, has requested the respective departments in possession of the heritage monuments to vacate the premises so that they can be restored, maintained and thrown open to the NRIs' and the younger generations to get a feel or the erstwhile rich legacy. While the Punjab government has already signed an agreement with the Neemrana Hotels Private Ltd for the Rajendra Kothi, Patiala, that is likely to be thrown open to the public by mid-2008, others too are following suit.

"Among the palaces and old heritage monuments, some over 400 years old the ones at Malerkotla, Ludhiana, Jalandhar , Kapurthala, Faridkot, Bathinda and Sangrur have already been identified to be converted into heritage hotels ," said Jagjit Puri, secretary, Information and Public Relations, and director , Tourism, Punjab.

About 200 kms from Chandigarh, the Punjab Tourism department plans to pioneer the move with the capital of the erstwhile Jind State, Sangrur. Founded in the 17th century Sangrur remained the capital of the former independent state of Jind for over a century . Built by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, the Hermitage (Heritage monument) at the moment is with the Health Department, Punjab, running a TB Sanatorium.

"The response from the health department is awaited and the 44 acres at Hermitage will be developed under the PPP mode," said Puri. The Punjab government has in a communication written to the Health Department, Punjab, its intention to restore the Hermitage to be used to promote tourism in Punjab the reply for which is yet awaited.

Most of the heritage buildings in Punjab some in dilapidated conditions are being used by various departments to house their offices. The over 100-year-old Ladda Kothi, Sangrur, renovated by Punjab government is presently being used by the police department for training.

The Tourism Department, Punjab, will also request owners of private havelis' to partner the Heritage Board in promoting tourism. "We plan to join hands with owners of heritage buildings and havelis' to restore their properties. These can be converted to two star hotel accommodation for the budget tourist visiting Punjab," said Puri.

As an incentive to the owners the Punjab government has plans to work out the same on 80-20 profit sharing. While the 80 per cent of the revenue will go to the private owners the balance 20 will be go to the Punjab Heritage Board towards running costs.

Punjab Tours :

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pollution around Golden Temple, Amritsar alarming

The mushrooming of small and big hotels in the periphery of Golden Temple, smoke spewing from three-wheelers fitted with two-stroke engines and burning of garbage by the municipal corporation has raised pollution level around the Sikh shrine.
Preliminary reports of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), which had installed four samplers on all top floors of the "parikarma" of the Golden Temple, had described the pollution level as alarming.
Talking to The Tribune, G.S. Majitha, executive engineer, PPCB, said there were more than 100 hotels around Golden Temple which had been frequently using generator sets in case of power failure. "These hotels are like full-fledged factories," he said. Expressing concern over the rising pollution level in the walled city, Majitha said his staff was shocked to see MC employees burning garbage there.
The problem is aggravated due to the use of adulterated fuels by vehicles, especially three-wheelers. The PPCB suggested that vehicles should not be allowed to park near the Darbar Sahib Complex.
Majitha said Amritsar, Jalandhar, Batala and Ludhiana had been marked as most polluted. According to the data collected by the PPCB, the suspended particulate matter (SPM) were beyond the permissible limits. The executive engineer said vehicular traffic contributed the most to the pollution in the city. There were 3,85,476 two-wheelers, 35,249 tractors and 2,082 buses running in Amritsar.
One of the inferences of study was that commercial diesel vehicles were being run on low-quality fuel. Many were being run on kerosene, which released toxic fumes that were responsible for itching eyes and respiratory problems. It also adds lead oxide, sulphur dioxide and nitric oxide to the air.
The historic city also has the dubious distinction of producing a large quantum of solid waste and garbage after Ludhiana - 600 tonnes daily.
Sikh Heritage and Gurudwara News :

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Indian Sikh pilgrims ask Pak. to relax visa regime

Sikh pilgrims from India, who are on a visit to Pakistan to mark the festival of Baisakhi, have asked the Pakistan Government to ease visa restrictions. The Pakistan Government should relax its visa policies so that more visitors from India could visit without hindrance, the Daily Times quoted them as saying on arrival।

The pilgrims said the followers of Baba Guru Nanak felt that it was the right time to forget past differences and promote peace, friendship and harmony between the two peoples.

"We have to promote love, peace and humanity in the region and this is only possible if Sikhs and Pakistanis commit themselves to live in peace। The fact that Pakistanis take care of our holy places is like loving us. We love Pakistanis and love Pakistan," Gurdeep Sing from Amritsar said.

Another pilgrim Ramesh Chander Sachdev said, "I am visiting Pakistan for the first time. I was born in Faisalabad 63 years ago and my family left our home when I was three years old. I have wanted to visit my home, but I do not have a visa for Faisalabad district. I appeal to the Pakistani Government to relax visa policies so that people like me can visit their birth places."

Sikh News :

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

NRI Dr Kartar Singh Lalvani offers to pay for restoration in Golden Temple

A non-resident Indian entrepreneur on Wednesday offered to pay for the "restoration" of the 300-year-old door at the Golden Temple and opposed any move to replace it.
"The door, known as Darshani Deori at the main entrance to the sanctum sanctorum, has a historic significance and I am prepared to pay for its conservation and restoration," Dr Kartar Singh Lalvani said.
73-year-old Lalvani, founder chairman of Vitabiotics, Britain's first specialist vitamin supplement company, who is also interested in the preservation of artefacts, said the door was originally part of the historic Somnath Temple in Gujarat before it was plundered by raiders from Afghanistan.
Lalvani, winner of the Asian of the Year award last year, said it was Maharaja Ranjit Singh who secured the door from the then ruler of Afghanistan Shah Zaman as part of a treaty after he defeated the marauders from Kabul. The door first offered to Somnath Temple but it was turned down.
A report quoted to SGPC executive member Kiranjot Kaur said the committee had recently decided to replace the door because its condition has deteriorated over the years.
The work was to be entrusted to the Birmingham-based Sikh missionary organization Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewa Jatha and plans had already been drawn up to import special timber from Africa.
Sikh Heritage and Gurudwara News :

Monday, April 09, 2007

Vanishing Sikh turbans finally get attention

In this new age of mass communication assaults and cultural penetrations, the Sikhs' turban, a distinguishing mark of the community is under constant threat, and many a Sikh youth are giving up this symbol of faith that has been responsible for centuries for the unique look of the community. Largely worn by the males, (though some womenfolk also do), the turban has been and is being discarded by many a Sikh youth who are getting their hair shorn.
Young Sikhs are abandoning the traditional headwear, wearying of the elaborate ceremony of maintaining long hair and knotting it under six yards of starched cotton.
Politically incorrect jokes, misplaced priorities and massive Bollywood onslaught have all contributed to the Sikhs taking a path which makes them 'patit' (apostate), but recently a number of efforts have been undertaken to pull back from the brink.
The SGPC has recognised the problem for many years now but has doen precious little to arrest the patit phenomena। "Across Punjab a large number of Sikh youth have cut their hair and, sadly, the turban-tying ceremony for teenage boys has also become rare, even in villages" lamented Avtar Singh Makkar, the SGPC chief. The jathedars of all Sikh takhts, the supreme seats of temporal power, have stressed the issue repeatedly but little emerged except verbiage over the time.
Now, a Punjabi singer Pammi Bai has sang songs in favour of turban, and featured many a known men from the world of arts and cinema. The SGPC, has declared the April 13 harvest festival of Baisakhi as International Sikh Turban Day. Two turban-tying schools have been founded in the holy city of Amritsar, and a competition to select "Mr Singh International", is expected to attract widespread participation.
Every region in Punjab has its own distinct style of tying a turban, with each claiming theirs to be the best, and Mr Singh contestants are to be judged on how stylishly their headgear is tied.

The present reigning champion, Navjot Singh Sidhu, an MP and former Test cricketer, recently held a procession in Amritsar to instill a sense of pride among Sikh youth. Meanwhile, concern over acts of violence in the West against Sikhs, mistaken for members of the Taliban, who also sport turbans, has also prompted overseas campaigns to "dignify" the headgear.
Sikhism and Sikh Culture :

Thursday, April 05, 2007

No money for heritage conservation says SGPC

Damaged and worn frescos inside the Darbar Sahib in desperate need of professional conservation and restoration. The damage has been exacerbated by poorly advised kar-seva in the past. Photograph Kurtas Singh.

In the recently passed Rs 330-crore ($76million) budget of the cash-rich Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, not even a penny has been earmarked for preservation and conservation of historic gurdwaras, Sikh art and creating awareness about heritage buildings. Angered by this, conservationists, artistes and social workers feel that the religious body managing gurdwaras in northern India must set up a heritage cell so that the history can be preserved and documented.

The artistes feel that the biggest danger to the Sikh art - comprising paintings, murals and frescoes decorating walls of the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple - is from its custodian, the SGPC.

Recently, the SGPC came under condemnation for damaging heritage in the name of 'kar sewa' at various gurdwaras as murals were painted white, paintings destroyed and traditional Nanakshahi bricks were replaced with marble and shining stones.

"They (SGPC) and kar sewa babas have done more harm to the buildings than anyone else. The murals and frescoes at the Golden Temple are peeling off and the restoration at some sections has been improperly done, without taking care of the originality," rued state convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Dr Sukhdev Singh.

He said the SGPC should realise the significance of historic buildings and art work and set up a heritage wing with experts on panels.

Art historians and critics said the SGPC employees were not aware of the importance of the heritage of gurdwaras. "When the Akal Takht was re-built after Operation Bluestar in 1984, the art was hit the most. Instead of preserving, the rich murals and frescoes were devastated," alleged Brij Bedi, a social worker. "It's a pain to see the rich heritage ruining. There is no one to stop the process," he said.

Bedi said the heritage wing should work as an advisory body to the staff and be consulted while restoring the art work.

Renowned artist Satpal Danish, whose forefathers were entrusted with the task of doing art work on the walls of the

Darbar Sahib, said, "In the utmost disgrace, glazed tiles were fixed on the ground floor of Gurdwara Baba Atal, situated in close proximity of the Golden Temple. We have been raising the voice against the damage being caused to the historic buildings, but there is no one to listen," he said.

"Many of the devotees and pilgrims are ignorant about the great artistic treasure. The paintings on the walls depict the 'janamsakhis' of Guru Nanak Dev and other Gurus," said Dr Sukhdev, adding that even the books and documents at Sikh Reference Library inside the Golden Temple complex were not being preserved professionally.

Some renovation of the upper domes and walls at the Golden Temple was carried out by INTACH a few years back, but the work was stopped by the SGPC without giving reasons. UK-based Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewa Jatha also carried out repairs, but the original craftsmanship was not preserved though the members claimed to have preserved the heritage.

SGPC chief Jathedar Avtar Singh, denying that the SGPC was unconcerned, said he would take up the matter in the executive body meeting and if decided, they would seek help of the experts.

Punjab and Sikh Heritage News :

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sikh Festival Baisakhi on April 14, 2007

Baisakhi is one of the major festivals of Sikhs and is celebrated with lot of enthusiasm and gaiety in the state of Punjab and all throughout the world where there is a significant Sikh population. For the large farming community of Punjab, Baisakhi Festival marks the time for harvest of rabi crops and they celebrate the day by performing joyful bhangra and gidda dance. For the Sikh community, Baisakhi Festival has tremendous religious significance as it was on a Baisakhi Day in 1699, that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru laid the foundation of Panth Khalsa-the Order of the Pure Ones.

Baisakhi Festival falls on the first day of Vaisakh month (April-May) according to Nanakshahi or Sikh Calendar. For this reason, Baisakhi is also popularly known as Vaisakhi. According to English calendar, the date of Baisakhi corresponds to April 13 every year and April 14 once in every 36 years. This difference in Baisakhi dates is due to the fact that day of Baisakhi is reckoned according to solar calendar and not the lunar calendar. The auspicious date of Baisakhi is celebrated all over India under different names and different set of rituals and celebrations. Baisakhi date coincides with 'Rongali Bihu' in Assam, 'Naba Barsha' in Bengal, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and 'Pooram Vishu' in Kerala.

People of Punjab celebrate the festival of Baisakhi with exuberance and devotion. As the festival has tremendous importance in Sikh religion, major activities of the day are organized in Gurdwaras. People wake up early to prepare for the day. Many also take bath in the holy river to mark the auspicious occasion. After getting ready people pay a visit to their neighbourdood gurdwara and take part in the special prayer meeting organized for the day. At the end of the Baisakhi ardas, congregates receive specially prepared Kara prasad or sweetened semolina. This is followed by a guru ka langar or community lunch.

Later, during the day people of Sikh faith take out a Baisakhi procession under the leadership of Panj piaras. The procession moves through the major localities of the city amidst the rendition of devotional songs by the participating men, women and children. Mock duels, bhangra and gidda performances make the procession joyous and colourful.

For the large farming community of Punjab and Haryana, Baisakhi marks a New Year's time as it is time to harvest rabi crop. On Baisakhi, farmers thank god for the bountiful crop and pray for good times ahead. People buy new clothes and make merry by singing, dancing and enjoying the best of festive food.

Cries of "Jatta aai Baisakhi", rent the skies as gaily men and women break into the bhangra and gidda dance to express their joy. Everyday farming scenes of sowing, harvesting, winnowing and gathering of crops are expressed through zestful movements of the body to the accompaniment of ballads and dhol music.

In several villages of Punjab Baisakhi Fairs are organized where besides other recreational activities, wrestling bouts are also held.

Punjab and Sikh Culture News :

Friday, March 30, 2007

Sikh heritage project to be completed by 2009

A heritage complex dedicated to Anandpur Sahib, the place where the Sikh religion was born 308 years ago in 1699, would be completed by March 2009.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Tuesday set the deadline for completion of the Khalsa heritage complex at Anandpur Sahib, 90 km from here. He said the complex would be dedicated to the people on the occasion of Hola Mohalla - a festival to celebrate the valour of Sikhs.

The Rs.2.24 billion project will showcase the evolution of the Sikh religion. It is aimed at giving correct information to the younger generation of Sikhs in India and abroad. The complex will house rare manuscripts, books, paintings and other artefacts to show the evolution of the religion.

The Punjab government has also announced that it will honour Moshe Safdie, an Israeli architect who had been involved in designing and implementing the project. The project was announced in April 1999 on the occasion of the tercentenary of the of the Sikh religion. An amount of Rs.1.14 billion has already been spent on the project, which has been delayed beyond its five-year deadline. Badal said that the remaining amount of Rs.1.1 billion would be made available for the project for its early completion.

Sikh Heritage News :

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

France apex court upholds turban ban

The apex court of France has dismissed a petition pertaining to wearing of turbans by Sikhs. The petition was filed on behalf of Sikh students staying in France. Their legal counsel in India, M S Rahi, who has also taken up the issue in Punjab and Haryana High Court, confirmed that the petition was dismissed in the second week of March.
Sixty seven-year-old Ranjeet Singh, who has been staying in Paris for more than 15 years now and has been denied social security perks, told TOI, "We will file a petition in the European Court of Justice in Luxemburg. The case will be filed by the Singh Legal Foundation in Luxemburg." Incidentally, a similar case is already going on at Strasbrough in France, the headquarters of European Human Rights Commission.
Didar Singh Nalvi, a member of SGPC from Haryana, who is closely following the case, is of the opinion that India should intervene in this case. "Wearing a turban is part of our religion. And somebody should educate them that it should not be associated with people involved in terrorism," he said. As per the present system in France, identity card, driving licence and security card should have a photo without a turban. SGPC has said they have raised the issue several times through diplomatic channels, but the government hasn't done much about it. About three years ago, wearing of a headgear was banned across all the schools in France and Sikhs were victims of this decision.
Sikhism News :

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Gurudwara in no man's land in Kutch, Gujarat

Kutch (Gujarat): A Gurudwara in no man's land has put worshippers and the government in a fix. It is the last human abode on the India-Pakistan border in Gujarat. Located at Lakhpat in Kutch, the five-and-a-half-century-old Gurudwara is a protected monument. The local Sikh community wants to develop it into a major pilgrimage center but they are finding it difficult to convince the government.

Once a thriving town, Lakhpat lost its maritime significance in 1851 AD, when River Sindhu changed its course. Today the town is almost deserted, with only a few families living here and instead has become home to a revered Gurudwara.

"The importance of this Gurudwara can be gauged from the fact that though there's not one sikh family living in the radius of 60 km, we still have langars (community meal sharing) all the year round. People travel for thousands of kilometers to visit the Gurudwara," says Jathedar Surinder Singh.

Legend has it that Guru Nanak Sahib, the founder of the Sikh religion, embarked for Haj (pilgrimage) to Mecca from Lakhpat. Bhai Shrichand, Guru Nanak's son, constructed the Gurudwara to commemorate this event.

Winner of a UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award in 2004, this Gurudwara houses relics like a carved wooden cradle, wooden sandals of Guru Nanak, ancient manuscripts and markings of two of the important heads of the Udasi sect.

Those managing the Gurudwara are however unhappy. "Government instead of helping us is creating hurdles for us, telling us not to do this or not to do that. It does not even give permission, if they do give it to us we would get it built," says Jathedar Surinder Singh.

The Sikh community wants to develop this as a major religious center. They want to build a guesthouse and renovate the entire area. However, with it being a protected monument and that too close to the border, the government is having a having a tough time balancing religious sentiments and strategic requirements.

Sikhism and Gurudwara News :

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Rare sculpture of Maharaja Dalip Singh to be auctioned in Bonhams

Punjab Heritage and Education Foundation Chandigarh has appealled to the Sikhs world over to purchase the rare sculpture of Maharaja Dalip Singh to be auctioned in Bonhams (London) on 19th April 2007 and place it in Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum, Ram Bagh Amritsar which is the proper place for this rare sculpture। In a letter to Prime Minister Dr। Manmohan Singh, Chief Minister S। Parkash Singh Badal, Shromoni Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC) President S. Avtar Singh Makkar, Delhi Gurdwara Parbandak Committee President S. Paramjit Singh Sarna, Foundation President Prof. Gurbax Singh Shergill and Vice-President Dr. Charanjit Singh Gumtala stated that The bust of the Indian Prince and Sikh hero, Maharaja Dalip Singh, fashioned by British sculptor John Gibson almost 150 years ago, will be sold at Bonhams on April 19th at 101 New Bond Street. The bust is estimated to sell for £25,000 to £35,000.

The sculpture was produced in Rome in 1859-60. The story of Dalip Singh (1838-1893) is a tragic one of loss and of political manoeuvring by the British Government and the British East India Company.

Maharaja Dalip Singh, the Maharaja of Lahore and King of the Sikh Empire, was born on the 6th September 1838, the son of the legendary Lion of the Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and the so-called 'Messalina of the Punjab', Maharani Jind Kaur. In 30 years Ranjit Singh, the great warrior king of the Sikhs had carved out a kingdom stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Himalayas.

At the age of 11, Maharajah Dalip Singh, ruler of the Punjab, and owner of the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was removed from his Kingdom by the British East India Company after the Anglo-Sikh Wars and exiled to Britain. Dalip's mother, the Maharani Jindan, had been dragged screaming from her eleven-year-old son and imprisoned in a fortress. In 1854 Dalip was brought to England to begin his extraordinary journey through fashionable society. Five years later it had led him to Rome to sit for the esteemed Royal Academician John Gibson. In spring 1859 the sculptor began work on the Dalip bust making sketches and maquette studies. The subject wears a voluminous pearl necklace and embroidered kaftan tunic in the Kashmiri taste. His uncut hair, in the religious prescription of his Sikh patrimony, is wound in a turban. He is also bearded.

Punjab Heritage News :

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Punjab declares holidays on Shaheed Bhagat Singh,s anniversaries

CHANDIGARH: Duly recognising the supreme sacrifice of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday declared March 23 and September 27 as gazetted holidays on the occasion of 75th Martyrdom Day and 100th birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
Disclosing this here, an official said that Badal decided to revive the holiday on March 23 on the persistent demand of the public after a gap of five years as the previous government had withdrawn this holiday.
The Chief Minister also announced that the state government would organise a year-long celebrations to observe the 75th Martyrdom Day and 100th birth anniversary of great martyr that falls during the year 2007.
Punjab News :

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Takht Hazur Sahib set to get facelift with medicinal plants

Venue for the tercentenary celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib's consecration and Guru Gobind Singh's 'parlok gaman', Nanded in Maharastra is all set to get a facelift with medicinal and other plants grown with the advice of a senior Punjab IAS Officer.
For the purpose of receiving 'useful tips' from Punjab's Financial Commissioner-cum-Principal Secretary, Information and Public Relations, D.S. Jaspal, the organisers have already invited him over. Approximately three-million pilgrims from across the world are religiously expected to visit Takht Sachkhand, Sri Hazur Sahib Gurdwara, Abchalnagar at Nanded for the celebrations scheduled to be held next year.
Mr Jaspal has given his consent for the project. He has already 'cloned' trees associated with the Sikh Gurus in this part of the region and has also been involved in the pictorial documentation of 48 Sikh shrines named after native species of trees in his book 'Tryst with Trees - Punjab's Sacred Heritage'.
Giving details, the sources in the Punjab Government assert Mr Jaspal has been invited by the Takht Hazur Sahib Trust for advising it on landscaping and beautifying the environs of the gurdwara. In a communication to Mr Jaspal, Maharashtra's Director-General of Police-cum-Chairman of the Gurdwara's Administrative Committee Dr Parvinder Singh Pasricha has asserted: "I understand you have developed clones of Dukh Bhanjani Beri and are making clones of other trees associated with the Sikh Gurus .. We would also need some useful tips on landscaping and enhancing the greenery in the city".
Elaborating on the importance of the city in Sikhism, the sources assert Nanded is one of the four 'high seats of authority of the Sikhs'. Tenth and the last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, had held his court and congregation in the city.He had left for heavenly abode at Nanded and his ashes were buried in the gurdwara on the side of the river Godavari . The Sikh mythology says the Guru rose to heaven from Nanded, along with his horse Dilbag.
The prime-time celebrations will begin with Takht Snan or holy bath on October 24 next year. Diwali will be held the next day followed by a procession on October 26. The Gurta-Gaddi or inception of Guru Granth Sahib will be celebrated on October 27 followed by 'parlok gaman' on October 30 next year.
Gurudwara News by

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Amritsar Airport Rajasansi to be expanded

The Punjab government will get the Rajasansi airport, Amritsar, inspected by officials of the Civil Aviation Department next month for facilities provided to passengers at the international airport and a plan will be prepared for its expansion. This would be to strengthen infrastructure at the three airports in Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Amritsar to provide more air connectivity to people of the state.
Mr Navjot Sidhu, MP, said he would also take up the matter of shifting of the Air Force station in the airport with the Ministry of Defence so that land was made available for expansion of the airport. He added expansion plan of the airport would be finalised only after the report of the inspection of the airport was submitted. This would be the first-ever official inspection of the airport by the government.
At a press conference, Mr Sidhu said 30 per cent to 40 per cent of total passengers coming to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi were Punjabis and they could be given direct flights to Amritsar. "This airport has become redundant due to lack of adequate land. Besides, it does not have even a single aerobridge. A grant of Rs 68 crore has been received from the Centre and there has to be proper state-centre co-ordination to make the best of the financial aid. This airport lacks infrastructure and the Punjab government is committed to upgrade it to provide better facilities to passengers," he said.
The Punjab government, he said, would soon meet officials of the Government of India for a plan to improve air connectivity, along with better road and rail networks in the state.
Amritsar, Punjab News by

Punjab village breathes new life into girlchild

Khothran (Nawanshahr) : A sleepy village, back of beyond, has woken up to stir the conscience of its people, snuff life out of the evil of female foeticide and help the girl child breathe easy. Surrounded by green fields, dotted with clusters of kutcha-pucca houses opening into slushy streets, the girl child is getting a new life here. Words like "abortion" and "discrimination" hold no water anymore and every birth is a reason to celebrate the baby, the mother and life.
A girl is as welcome as a boy and lending credence to this changed mindset are statistics. Against 50 males and 31 females born in 2004, of the 77 children born here in 2005, 44 were girls, giving a fillip to the dwindling sex ratio of the district and goading volunteers of "Upkaar" to stoke the campaign fire further.
This district-level co-ordination body formed by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Krishan Kumar, "Upkaar", with people from all walks of life, spearheads the campaign. United, they all stand for one cause — that of saving the girl child.
While the increased number of girls at the end of the year have brought some cheer to the volunteers as also village sarpanch Nirmal Kaur, they know it's just the beginning and have a long way to go. But, then, again, every villager believes that large oaks from small acorns grow and are willing to slog. They want their small beginning to snowball into a people's movement for correcting the sex ratio of their villages, going on to the block, the district, the state and finally the country.
Punjab News by