Jathedar says such people should first seek forgiveness for leaving Panth before seeking readmission; to seek report on the function, if allurements were offered or did the Manch have any ulterior motive
The Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhism, has refused to give approval to the ghar wapsi (homecoming) of 23 families who reconverted from Christianity to Sikhism on Tuesday.
These families belonging to the Mazhbi (scheduled caste) community were welcomed back into the Sikh fold at a function organised at a gurdwara at Guru-ki-Wadali village by the Dharam Jagran Manch, a wing of the RSS.
Reacting to this, Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh made it clear that he did not approve of such conversions, which were not carried out in accordance with Sikh tenets.
Addressing mediapersons here on Wednesday, the jathedar said, "When a person (who has left the faith) expresses a desire to return to Sikhism, he must first ask for forgiveness in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib and before the Sikh sangat assembled at a gurdwara.
Such a person can also approach the Akal Takht seeking forgiveness and only then will he be readmitted into the faith."
The jathedar said such a procedure was followed when a couple of years ago certain families who had joined the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda had expressed their desire to return to Sikhism.
Seeking report on conversion
The jathedar indicated that he would seek a report on the ghar wapsi function held at a gurdwara at Guru-ki-Wadali. Though the gurdwara is not under the SGPC, the Akal Takht can seek a report as it is a Sikh shrine and the issue in contention is of a religious nature.
"Certain other factors have to be found out. The foremost being if any allurement was given to the families that again embraced Sikhism," he added.
Another factor that the jathedar will look into is if there was any ulterior motive behind these conversions. That is whether the Dharam Jagran Manch carried out the conversions for some "gains".
"Sikhism is against conversion and respects all religions. There is no better example of this than the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur," he added.
When told that the conversions were by consent and were not forced, the jathedar said, "You need not use force, you can allure a person with promises of different kinds. This is especially what we have to find out."
The jathedar did not agree that the economic factor had led Sikh families into the Christian fold. "The SGPC offers a lot of incentives like free education for children from poor families in schools managed by the religious body. Other than this, even scholarships are given to students in SGPC-run schools if they excel in studies, sports and religious activities," he added.
SAD not involved in conversions: Badal
Meanwhile, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal made it clear that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was not involved in conversions as Sikhism is against it. He said the ghar wapsi ceremony at Guru-ki-Wadali was held in a shrine that was not under the SGPC. "I will not comment on the ceremony but will only say that we are against conversions. Sikhism also prohibits this," he told reporters after a function at the Golden Temple.