After almost two months, Sikh high priests will meet at the Golden Temple on Monday in Amritsar to take up important religious issues, the foremost of which is amendment to the ‘ardas’ (prayer) at a gurdwara in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Some Sikh labourers in the UAE had brought this matter to the notice of Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, who has criticised the changes and said no gurdwara could make these changes on its own. All religious issues have to be first brought to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
Besides Giani Gurbachan Singh, the others jathedars in the meeting will be Giani Mal Singh (Keshgarh Sahib), Giani Gurmukh Singh (Damdama Sahib, acting), and Giani Iqbal Singh (Patna Sahib). A senior ‘granthi’ of Harmandar Sahib will complete the quorum of five, in case no representative comes from Hazoor Sahib at Nanded in Maharashtra.
The Sikh clergy had last assembled on October 16, to withdraw the September 24 Akal Takht decision of exonerating Sirsa’s Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a 2007 blasphemy case. It happened in the wake of protests from a large section of the Sikh community, including the radical groups.
Police have made elaborate security arrangements for the meeting coming up at the Akal Takht secretariat. since radical elements are likely to stage a protest as indicated by the Dal Khalsa, which has questioned the Takht jathedars’ authority to take important “panthic decisions”.
Dal Khalsa spokesman Kanwar Pal Singh has said that the radicals’ “Sarbat Khalsa” last month had ‘sacked’ the four jathedars over granting pardon to Ram Rahim. At the Sikh congregation, radical groups such as the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and the United Akali Dal (UAD) had appointed own jathedars for the three Takhts in Punjab that are under the SGPC’s control. Officially, the SGPC appoints the jathedars but the radicals have refused to go along with it, which became evident on Diwali, when they openly confronted the gurdwara body inside the shrine.
The SGPC executive body stands by Giani Gurbachan Singh and his fellow head priests. It has rejected the decision of the Akal Takht’s ‘Panj Pyaras’ (five beloved ones of the Guru) to seek the resignation of the jathedars of the Akal Takht, Keshgarh Sahib and Damdama Sahib.