Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was on Friday left embarrassed when an ‘ardasia’(one who offers prayers) at the Golden Temple refused to honour him with a ‘siropa’.
The ‘ardasia’, identified as Balbir Singh, had on January 20 denied ‘siropa’ to deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal --- who heads the Shiromani Akali Dal which controls the Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Commitee that manages gurdwara affairs.
After Friday’s incident, the SGPC was quick crack whip and transfer Balbir Singh to a Ludhiana gurdwara.
Sources said around 11 am, when Badal was inside the sanctum sanctorum, Golden Temple manager Sulkhan Singh asked Balbir Singh to give ‘siropa’ to the CM. The ‘ardasia’ paid no heed to him and instead handed over a ‘patasa’ (prasad) to the chief minister.
SGPC officials said it was perhaps for the first time that octogenarian Badal had been meted out such a treatment inside the Golden Temple in his long political career.
Over the years, the SGPC has refrained from honouring Congress chief ministers of the state inside the sanctum sanctorum on the grounds that they were not baptised Sikhs or ‘true Sikhs’.
Even non-Sikh prominent personalities such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been honoured inside the sanctum sanctorum. Former PM Manmohan Singh received the ‘siropa’ inside the sanctum sanctorum when he was the prime minister.
SGPC additional secretary Daljit Singh Bedi said gurdwara panel chief Avtar Singh Makkar has taken strong note of the incident and ordered immediate transfer of Balbir Singh to an SGPC-run gurdwara in Macchiwara in Ludhiana district.
Another ‘ardasia’Gurcharan Singh was also transferred after being charged with dereliction of duty as he had left the gurdwara 10 minutes before the scheduled time. Balbir Singh had taken his position inside the sanctum sanctorum when Badal was there.
“The SGPC chief has also ordered an inquiry into the incident “, Bedi added.
Hurt over inaction in sacrilege incidents: Ardasia
Balbir Singh, on his part, said: “Like most Sikhs, my religious sentiments have been hurt over sacrilege incidents across Punjab, sadly, not even a single person involved in these incidents has been punished.”
‘Siropa’: A mark of honour
‘Siropa’, a piece of saffron cloth (around 1.25 metre), holds great value in Sikhism and is offered to dignitaries at a religious place or function. A ‘siropa’ being offered inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple is considered a great honour. Badal and his son Sukhbir are at the helm of affairs in Punjab. Their party, the SAD controls the SGPC ---the body that manages gurdwara affairs. Both father-son duo is routinely honoured with ‘siropas’ at functions.