The Sikh clergy on Wednesday took strong note of existence of caste-based gurdwaras in Punjab and directed management committees of all such holy places to ensure that there was no discrimination against devotees or restriction on their entry.
"A gurdwara is a place of reverence, a place where anyone, irrespective of caste, colour, creed or religion, could pay obeisance. Hence, the management committees of all shrines are directed to ensure that there is no form of discrimination or restriction on the entry of devotees," the strongly-worded directive of the clergy read.
The directive warned management committee members of action by the Akal Takht in case of violation of these orders. The directive also asked the management committees to put up the earnings or expenses of gurdwaras on their notice boards.
Acting on complaints, the clergy had taken note of Sikh holy places labelled as "Jattan da gurdwara" or "Mazbhi Singhaan da gurdwara" and the like. The complaints made reference to denial of entry to members of one caste to gurdwaras managed by another caste.
A meeting of the clergy was held at the Golden Temple, chaired by Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh. Takht Kesgarh Sahib jathedar Giani Tirlochan Singh, Takht Damdama Sahib jathedar Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh and Takht Patna Sahib jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh participated in the meeting.
Ex-communication orders issued
The Akal Takht ex-communicated Dharam Singh Nihang, a resident of Khanna, on charges of having passed derogatory remarks against the Guru Granth Sahib during a radio talk show in Canada. The ex-communication order called for the social boycott of Dharam Singh and directed all members of the community not to share any religious or social platform with him.
Dharam Singh had passed certain unsavory comments on the scripture in a talk show aired by Sher-e-Punjab radio network of Canada in February 2011. The comments were uploaded on youtube. He also paid no heed to the summons of the Akal Takht issued in July.
"Even after repeated reminders, Dharam Singh failed to appear before the Takht. Hence, he has been found guilty of gross religious misconduct and ex-communicated," the orders of the Takht stated.
Ban on use of 'gurbani' on poll posters
The clergy also took a serious view of use of verses from the 'gurbani' on election posters, pamphlets and stickers. "This tantamount to insulting the 'gurbani' as such material ended up being pasted on walls at public places and elsewhere. Henceforth, candidates contesting elections should refrain from using 'gurbani' verses on election material", stated the Akal Takht order.
Order on UK-based gurdwara
The clergy also took note of the 'ban' imposed by the management committee of a UK-based gurdwara on members of a rival committee from paying obeisance at the shrine. The clergy has directed the management committee of Gurdwara Khalsa Parkash in Windsor, England, to desist from such politics as Sikh shrines were open to all.