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 :