Monday, August 18, 2008

Bidar Nanak Jheera Gurudwara, a beacon for devotees

Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Bidar is emerging as an important spiritual tourism destination. The Nanak Jhira Gurudwara here attracts hundreds of tourists every day. Every day thousand of devotees from across the country visit this gurudwara. Devotees believe that the first Sikh Guru visited Bidar on his way to Sri Lanka in March 1512. "Then, Bidar was a dry place with no source of drinking water. People were forced to use brackish water. The Guru moved a stone under his feet and an eternal spring of fresh water gushed out. The spring flows even today. People believe it has magical powers and cures diseases," says Amar Singh Ragi, the gurudwara manager.

Sahib Singh, one of the `Panch Pyares' of Sikhism, was born in Bidar. That is why it attracts devotees from far and wide, he says. The gurudwara trust runs a hospital and a free canteen for tourists.

`Nishan Sahib,' the flag of Sikhism, which is treated as a symbol of the gurus, enjoys a special place during the celebrations of Guru Nanak Jayanti. Every year, hundreds of flags are brought from various gurudwaras in the country. Devotees from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh walk along with the Nishan Sahib and take turns to carry it to Bidar. The faithful start reading sacred texts on the eve of Kartik Purnima. The chanting of songs and couplets goes on till 2.30 a.m., when firecrackers are burst to celebrate the birth of Guru Nanak. People take a dip at Amrit Kund, a small artificial pond in front of the gurudwara. They join in the singing of bhajans. Next day, they take out a procession in town.

"Bidar has come to be known as the Amritsar of the South and has become a compulsory stopover for Sikh tourists," says Bidar-based businessmen and gurudwara volunteer Manpreet Singh Khanuja. "It draws not only Sikhs living in different parts of the country, but also people of other faiths. The State Government needs to promote Bidar as an important tourist destination and provide more facilities," Mr. Khanuja said.

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