Untouchability at a gurdwara of Lehra Khana village in Bathinda district has shaken the most respected custodians of Sikh faith.
The high priest of Akal Takht in Amritsar, jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, has condemned the incident where a dera had barred the Dalits from a gurdwara for being lower-caste people. The downtrodden community was denied its religious right to participate in the functioning of the place of worship.
"We condemn this act strongly," Giani Gurbachan Singh said here on Tuesday. "Sikh Gurus preached against untouchability. We have summoned the gurdwara committee for explanation. There is no place for social evils in any gurdwara."
The high priest was here to participate in a religious function of Nirol Seva Organisation (NSO). Asked if the incidents of this sort have become routine because the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) has failed to do its job, he said: "No, it's not because we have failed. We are doing our work. We guide people in the right direction but different deras continue to exploit people. Many people who approach the deras are drug addicts and the deras don't tell them to avoid the habit."
Asked if the SGPC was trying to see that the capacity of the train that takes Sikh devotees to religious festivals in Pakistan was increased, he said: "This decision has to be at the union government level. We have requested it to increase the capacity so that more devotees can visit gurdwaras in Pakistan."
The jathedar appreciated the work done by the NSO in combating social evils and taking the message to the masses. The NSO staged a play on Monday night as part of its awareness mission. "Punjabi play 'Jaar Neon', which we staged last night, condemns female feticide and drug addiction," said Jagdeep Singh Kala Sodhi, founder of the NSO. "The live performance impacted the villagers because they hardly ever get an opportunity to watch a play."
People from different villages around Gidderbaha thronged the two-day function. The NSO also built rooms in the village to store old copies of holy book Guru Granth Sahib.