Amritsar: The Sikh high priests have called upon the Punjab government to ask the railway ministry to introduce special trains to ferry pilgrims to Patna for taking part in the 350th birth anniversary (Gurpurab) celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh.
The Gurpurab will be celebrated on January 5 next year at Patna (Bihar), the birthplace of the 10th Sikh Guru. Several programmes and functions have been planned by the Takht Sri Patna Sahib Management Board in the run-up to the celebrations to be held at Gurdwara Sri Harmandir Sahib, Patna.
The appeal to the state government was made following a meeting of the Sikh high priests held at the Akal Takht secretariat here on Thursday. Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh had presided over the meeting.
The clergy also made an appeal to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), the Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib Parbandhak Board (Nanded, Maharashtra) and other prominent Sikh religious committees or groups to take up the issue of running special trains to Patna with the central government and the ministry concerned. These committees have also been asked to make arrangements for the stay of pilgrims, if possible, at Patna or nearby places.
The clergy, at its meeting, took the decision that henceforth all Sikhs would observe November 2 as ‘ardas divas’ (prayer day) in memory of the Sikhs who were massacred in Delhi and other parts of India following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. The Akal Takht jathedar stated that on this day, ‘ardas’ (prayers) should be held in all Sikh homes and gurdwaras in memory of the 1984 riot victims.
According to a release issued by the Akal Takht secretariat after the meeting, the high priests have taken strong exception to reports that certain individuals or groups are involved in ‘confiscating’ ‘birs’ of Guru Granth Sahib that are old and not in a proper condition. Most of these groups or individuals had not sought the Akal Takht’s approval for collecting old ‘birs’ and then transporting these to Goindwal Sahib for the last rites in accordance with Sikh religious norms.
“Only those who possess the Akal Takht’s authority letter should be handed over the old ‘birs’ by gurdwara management committees or individuals who keep the scripture at home. In case an attempt is made to forcibly take away an old ‘bir’, the gurdwara committee or individual should report the matter to the police and get a case registered, besides informing the Akal Takht,” Giani Gurbachan Singh said.
Meanwhile the clergy has again issued a warning against holding ‘akhand paath’ (religious ceremony) at cremation grounds or “any such place which lacks sanctity”. Local gurdwara committees in villages and towns have been told to keep a watch on such activities and report these to the Akal Takht.