Revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia on Monday commenced the final phase of 'tankha' (religious punishment) at the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of Sikhism, which had directed him to undergo penance for distorting portions of a 'hymn' of Guru Gobind Singh during an election rally in favour of BJP candidate from Amritsar Arun Jaitley last month.
He entered the Golden Temple complex with some of his close supporters and went straight to the sanctum sanctorum to pay obeisance, as is the custom, even for those undergoing 'tankha'. However, he did not take the 'VIP route' to the sanctum sanctorum but instead stood in the long queue there to pay obeisance.
Thereafter, he made his way to the Akal Takht to commence the 'akhand paath' (recitation of gurbani) on the second floor of the Takht building. He, along with his followers, sat down for some time to listen to the prayers being recited by a 'granthi'.
Majithia then moved to the Guru Ram Dass Langar of the shrine and performed 'sewa' (voluntary service). He washed utensils of devotees and also served 'chapatis' and 'dal' to them before himself partaking of 'langar' (food).
He also performed 'sewa' at the 'joda ghar' (place for keeping shoes) outside the Golden Temple. He performed this 'sewa' on his own, as it was not part of the 'tankha' announced by Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh on May one when the minister presented himself before the Takht.
He spent more time than one hour that was fixed for him for the 'sewa' at the 'langar' and for listening to prayers. He will repeat this exercise on Tuesday and Wednesday when the 'bhog' of the 'akhand paath' will be performed in his presence.
His exoneration will be final after 'ardas' is performed at the Akal Takht for forgiveness. He will also deposit an amount of `501 in the 'golak' at the Akal Takht, besides making an offering of 'karha parsad' of `101 at the Takht on the final day.
Those who performed 'sewa' with him included Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandik Committee (SGPC) members Bhagwant Singh Sialka, Jodh Singh Samra, Tarn Taran MLA Harmeet Singh Sandhu and a few others. There is no bar on friends and relatives accompanying a person who is directed to undergo 'tankha'.
The minister refused to talk to the media, saying that he has come here for a religious purpose.
Majithia appeared at the Akal Takht after completing his 'tankha' at the other four Takhts--Damdama Sahib, Keshgarh Sahib, Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib.
Certain sections have criticised him for the manner in which he has gone about performing his 'tankha'. They have claimed that he has failed to shed his VIP status even before the Takhts and whatever he did was not with dedication and not as a humble Sikh.
However his media advisor Sarchand Singh said, "The minister spent more than the time that was fixed for each task and even performed 'sewa' of cleaning shoes of devotees. Those who accompanied him were not just his supporters but are like his family members".