Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and sought the blessings of the “great gurus” for the “great land” (India).
As the PM bowed before the Guru Granth Sahib at the sanctum sanctorum, the shabad, ‘Gur jaisa nahi koi dev, jis mastaq so laga sev’ (There is no deity like the guru, only the chosen ones get the opportunity to perform sewa for the guru), reverberated in the shrine.
Harmandar Sahib head granthi Giani Jagtar Singh presented a ‘siropa’ to Modi besides to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. The PM offered ‘parsad’ and a yellow-coloured ‘rumala’ (covering for the Guru Granth Sahib) at the sanctum sanctorum.
Earlier, the PM, accompanied by Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu, Union food processing industry minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Punjab governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal and the chief minister arrived at the shrine at 5.50pm. He drove straight down to the shrine after reaching the local airport in a helicopter from Ferozepur.
Just prior to his arrival, the entry of devotees through the Clock Tower entrance was stopped. However, there were no such restrictions at other entry points. Flanked by security personnel and members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee task force, the PM walked down the marbled ‘parikrama’. A number of anxious devotees stood up to have a glimpse of the PM and some even dared defy the cops and came forward to click pictures with their mobiles.
Dressed in a light orange kurta and his trademark beige jacket and a white pyjama, the PM walked briskly with folded hands, often stopping on the way to make queries. Bowing before the Darshani Deori, he made his way to the sanctum sanctorum.
Later, after bowing at the Akal Takht, as he moved to the Clock Tower entrance, the PM often waved to the devotees standing in the ‘parikrama’. Despite the security restrictions, during his 35-minute stay at the shrine, the PM repeatedly stopped to pose for the cameramen stationed on a roof above the ‘parikrama’.
At the information office, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar honoured Modi with a ‘siropa’ and presented him a model of the Golden Temple besides a set of religious books. Makkar also presented a memorandum to him containing their demands.
Before leaving the place, the PM wrote in the visitors’ book, ‘Gur ashirwad bana rahe, pavitar bhoomi ko parnaam’ (May the blessings of the gurus always be with us. Regards to the holy land).
Homage at Jallianwala Bagh
Then, the VIP entourage halted at the Jallianwala Bagh where Modi laid a wreath at the Flame of Liberty and stood in two-minute silence as a mark of respect to the martyrs of the 1919 massacre.
He also visited the ‘martyrs’ well’ and enquired about the development work to be carried out at the place with central funds.
Writing in the visitors’ book, Modi paid tributes to the martyrs, ‘Veer mataon aivam veer putron ki shahadat ko parnam’ (I salute all the mothers and sons who sacrificed their lives here).
Prior to his departure for Delhi, Modi also paid obeisance at the Durgiana temple, where he was honoured with a ‘siropa’ and was presented a model of the temple by the management committee.
Security causes problems
The security arrangements irked locals as well as devotees and tourists. Many devotees waited for the PM to depart before making their way to the shrine. The unprecedented security arrangements were completely in contrast to the visits of many other PMs who had visited the place. For full 50 minutes, no devotee was allowed to enter the shrine through the Clock Tower entrance.