UK Sikh body keeping Golden Temple glittering for 20 years
While doing sewa from 9am to 6.30pm, they take care of the sanctity of the holiest Sikh shrine. During their work, they keep chanting ‘Waheguru Waheguru’ or listening to gurbani kirtan performed inside the sanctum sanctorum.Updated: Mar 28, 2019 21:51 IST
Volunteers of the ‘Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha’ have been travelling from UK to Amritsar every year since 2000 for cleaning the gold plating on the Golden Temple to keep its glitter intact.
For 20th consecutive year, 50-odd volunteers of the jatha, including 15 women, can be seen performing sewa at the sanctum sanctorum with religious fervour, dedication and reverence. They started the work this year on March 23.
“Usually, the ‘sewa’ takes 10 days to be completed,” said Bhai Gurdial Singh, who is supervising the volunteers of the jatha, headquartered at Birmingham.
While doing sewa from 9am to 6.30pm, they take care of the sanctity of the holiest Sikh shrine. During their work, they keep chanting ‘Waheguru Waheguru’ or listening to gurbani kirtan performed inside the sanctum sanctorum. Other devotees, including children, also join them.
Notably, they do not use any chemical to clean gold, but use ‘reetha’ (soap nut) powder mixed with lemon juice in the process.
Bhai Gurdial said, “We boil the reetha powder in water for three hours. Mixing lemon juice in this, we make liquid soap which is used to clean the gold plating. Around 20kg of reetha is needed for the cleaning.”
Bhai Inderjit Singh, a jatha member who belongs to Jalandhar, said, “Of the 50 volunteers of the jatha, which also has branches in other countries like India, Kenya and Canada, around 20 are Punjab-based.”
“The level of air pollution is rising in Amritsar with the increasing number of industrial units and vehicles. This spoils the gold plating. When it rains, a blackish layer settles on the gold plating due to air pollutants, affecting its glitter. It needs to be cleaned every year,” he added.
The gold plating on the shrine was done 192 years ago after Maharaja Ranjit Singh donated Rs 16.39 lakh for ‘sone di sewa’. Mohammad Khan was the first craftsman to overlay the sanctum with gold foil. Besides Ranjit Singh, his queens and other prominent Sikhs also donated money for the purpose. A total of Rs 64.11 lakh was spent on the work at that time, as per a book titled ‘Twarikh Sri Amritsar’.
After Operation Bluestar in 1984, Sikh organisations decided to repair and renovate the Golden Temple. Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha was among the organisations that undertook the task of coating the shrine with fresh plates of gold. The work started in February 1995 and was completed in April 1999. The jatha began the yearly sewa of cleaning the gold plating in 2000.
First Published: Mar 28, 2019 21:51 IST