As the relics of Sikh Gurus being the journey through Punjab on Wednesday, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will hope to regain the political ground it lost in the Lok Sabha elections.
The Punjab government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) are organising the procession together. For the SAD, which has always used the SGPC for its political purposes, the current exercise starting is the biggest ever. Instructed to make the programme a success, the Akalis are holding meetings in every district to mobilise people for the event.
The relics were last displayed in 1966 to celebrate the 300th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh when these were in the custody of Nabha’s erstwhile royal family. After the Nabha fort was sold out, the family had taken the historical objects to their new home in New Delhi.
Elephants, horses, brass bands, gatka and martial artistes will lead the procession. After a rout in Punjab in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the-then Congress chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had partnered Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee in taking a gold palanquin from Delhi to Kartarpur in Pakistan, in a similar public spectacle. The Akalis had then called it “palki (palanquin) politics”, as Amarinder had ignored the SGPC and roped in the Delhi committee led by the pro-Congress Sarna brothers.
Though the Punjab government and the SGPC are taking out the procession, neither has worked to reclaim these relics from Tikka Hanuwant Singh of the erstwhile royal family. It is Nabha residents who moved the high court, which ordered to place the relics with the Punjab government.
‘They take mileage now’
“In 2004, I had asked the SGPC and the Punjab government to reclaim the relics,” said former Miniority Commission chairman Tarlochan Singh, adding: “As the matter reached the high court, I persuaded Tikka Hanuwant to hand over these to Panth. That time, no one cared. Now, the SGPC and the government seek political mileage.”
For the mega event from May 6 to 21, the SAD has roped in volunteer organisations and local gurdwara committees for organising langar (common kitchen). In every district, a cabinet-level minister and SGPC members will receive the procession. SAD president Sukhbir Badal with monitor all the arrangements; and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal will flag off the march from Patiala.
“The SAD has lost its say in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), so it hopes religion can lift its popularity graph from the low it has hit because of the distressed sale of wheat and law-and-order issues.
Akali leader Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, who was here on Tuesday to oversee the arrangements, said: “It’s a purely religious function planned four months ago. Don’t question its timing.” “If the procession is non-political, why is the government involved and the SAD holding meetings?” said rebel Akali leader Manjit Singh Calcutta.
Guru Gobind Singh’s turban, three swords, a cloak, hair with comb and a manuscript
Guru Hargobind’s sword and whip
Siri Sahib related to Guru Teg Bahadur, has “Sat Sri Akal Guru Teg Bahadur” engraved on it
Are placed on a specially designed bus.
To begin on May 6 from Gurrdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib in Patiala; jathedars of all the five Takhts, Punjab CM and deputy CM to flag off.
To culminate on May 20 at Anandpur Sahib, where the relics will be placed at Takht Keshgarh Sahib.
May 6 Patiala, Nabha, Bhawanigarh, Sangrur, Barnala
May 7 Barnala, Mansa, Maur, Talwandi Sabo
May 8 Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda, Malout, Sri Muktsar Sahib
May 9 Sri Muktsar Sahib, Kotkapura, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Wazidpur
May 10 Wazidpur, Moga, Kot Isse Khan, Zira, Makhu, Harike
May 11 Harike, Patti, Bhikhiwind, Jhabbal, Tarn Taran
May 12 Tarn Taran, Jandiwala, Baba Bakala, Chowk Mehta, Amritsar
May 13 Halt at Amritsar
May 14 Amritsar, Batala, Sri Hargobindpur, Kahnuwan, Chhota Ghallughara
May 15 Chhota Ghallughara, Gurdaspur, Mulerian, Dasuya, Hoshiarpur
May 16 Hoshiarpur, Tanda, Bhogpur, Kartarpur, Kapurthala, Sultanpur-Lodhi (via Talwandi Chaudharian)
May 17 Sultanpur Lodhi, Malsian, Nakodar, Jalandhar, Phagwara
May 18 Phagwara, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib
May 19 Fatehgarh Sahib, SAS Nagar, Kharar, Morinda, Chamkaur Sahib, Rupnagar
May 20 Rupnagar, Anandpur Sahib