As the cold wave is tightening its grip on the holy city, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) authorities have made special arrangements to make the sojourn of pilgrims in the Golden Temple cosy.
The bone-chilling cold and blinding fog in the city may have reduced the footfall of tourists at the shrine, but for many, faith has no boundaries.
Even in this extreme cold there are people who are visiting the holy shrine and for those the SGPC authorities have of late been making special arrangements, which will remain till the winter chill stays.
Everyone, be it an elderly person or a child, needed a lot of courage to dip their feet into the chilled water to enter into the shrine, but one can now step in comfortably as the water is warm enough, thanks to the new arrangements. After washing of the feet, the next step of the pilgrims comes on warm carpets, specially-designed for the winter season.
Talking to HT about the new initiatives taken by the SGPC in this regard, Partap Singh, the manager of the Golden Temple, said, "We well understand that people who are visiting the shrine for the first time cannot bear this excessive cold, thus it becomes our duty to provide them warmth in best possible ways.
We have rolled out these warm carpets not only in the entire Parkarma but also in the corridors where most pilgrims like to sit and enjoy the tranquility and divinity of the shrine".
In this chilly weather, the other crowded corner is the langar hall where hot sumptuous tea is being served in abundance. In this weather the consumption of the tea increases. "Devotees who usually come here for a cup of tea now enjoy having three to four cups a day", Raghbir Singh, the langar manager of the Golden temple, says with a smile.
"Along with the food at the community kitchen of the shrine, tea is served round-the-clock and we have provided the facility of hot water for the cleaning of utensils. It is impossible to put hands under cold running water. Hot water facility will safeguard health of the sevadars and devotees who are working at the shrine selflessly," he said.
Among other facilities offered is hot drinking water being served in every corner of the parkarma. The delicious karah parshad is also being served hot to devotees and to keep it hot, induction plates are being used.
The holy city is witnessing dense fog everyday which leaves the marble floors in the shrine wet and slippery, thus the SGPC authorities have assigned duties to sevadars for mopping the parkarma regularly. During the nights, the fog lights are also on in the gurdwara to facilitate movement of devotees.
Asked if there is any proposal to provide blowers and heaters inside the sanctum sanctorum, Partap Singh says, "It is naturally cozy inside, thus there is no need for heaters there. However, to curtail and restrict cool breeze, we have covered the four doors of the sanctum sanctorum with thick sheets".
Despite the chilling cold, the new arrangements ensure that a visit to the Golden temple is always a delight for pilgrims.