The Sikh high priests have held Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member Navtej Singh Kauni guilty of violating a 2007 directive of the Akal Takht and directed him to undergo 18-day 'tankha' (religious punishment) to atone for his 'sin' of defiance of the highest temporal seat of Sikhism.
Kauni's guilt related to his attending a Dera Sacha Sauda congregation at Bhullar village in Muktsar district on May 16 during campaigning for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidates for the zila parishad and block samiti polls. Kauni is SGPC member from Doda in Muktsar.
This was the second occasion that Kauni had attended a dera congregation. The first one was in December 2011, just ahead of the assembly elections in January 2012, but he had got away at that time.
The 2007 directive prohibits all Sikhs from maintaining links with the Sirsa dera as its leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had allegedly hurt Sikh sentiments by wearing clothes similar to Guru Gobind Singh's attire, as depicted in numerous pictures and portraits.
The clergy took the decision after hearing Kauni's side of the story at its meeting here on Monday. The meeting was chaired by Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh.
As per tradition, the jathedar read out the 'hukamnama' (directive) holding the SGPC member guilty from the balcony of the Akal Takht. Kauni stood with folded hands below the Takht and accepted the 'tankha'.
As part of the 'tankha', Kauni will perform 'sewa' at the 'langar' and 'jora ghar' at gurdwara Shri Darbar Sahib in Muktsar for 18 days. He will also hear 'gurbani' for an hour and also offer prayers at the shrine.
After completion of the 18-day period, he will make an offering of `21,000 in the 'golak' of the shrine. Thereafter he will again present himself before the Akal Takht for atonement.
In a similar decision, the clergy found a Ludhiana Sikh, Charanjit Singh, 'guilty' of violating the Akal Takht and SGPC rules while trying to transport 'birs' of the Guru Granth Sahib to US. He was asked to undergo seven-day 'tankha' at Harmandar Sahib. This involves performing 'sewa' in the shrine and also listening to 'gurbani'.
No scripture in homes with liquor bars
Through another decision, the Akal Takht has banned the keeping of Guru Granth Sahib at homes, which have liquor bars or have liquor stored.
"Keeping of the scripture in such homes violates 'maryada'. Hence all Sikh families having the scripture at their homes should remove the holy book to the nearest gurdwara or they should get rid of the liquor that they have stored," stated Giani Gurbachan Singh in his interaction with the media after the meeting.
No 'akhand paths' at cremation grounds
The clergy also banned the practice of holding 'akhand paths' at cremation grounds or at 'samadhis' or burial grounds.
This practice is often noticed in the rural areas of Punjab. The clergy has made it clear that 'akhand paths' in the memory of those who have passed away can only be held at homes or in gurdwaras.
Turban issue in Canada
On the proposal to ban the wearing of head gears and other religious symbols in Quebec province of Canada, the jathedar said they had already asked the SGPC to take up this matter in the quarters concerned. "The only way we can halt such bans, is to unite and then put pressure," the Jathedar added.