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Golden Temple illuminated, less Fireworks this year to mark the ‘Bandi Chhor Diwas’ and Diwali

The festival spirit for Diwali could also be seen in Chandigarh and towns and cities in Haryana

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Golden Temple, Pixabay
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Amritsar, October 30, 2016: The Golden Temple complex, where the holiest of Sikh shrines, ‘Harmandar Sahib’ is located, was illuminated on Sunday and fireworks display took place to mark the ‘Bandi Chhor Diwas’ and Diwali.

There was festive spirit at the shrine complex in this Sikh holy city as tens of thousands of people came here to offer prayers and seek blessings.

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With millions of lights around, the whole complex presented an attractive look.

However, due to environmental and pollution concerns, the fireworks display by the shrine management was a reduced one.

“We had less fireworks this year due to pollution concerns. But all traditional and religious rituals were followed. There were concerns about damage to the sanctum sanctorum and other buildings from chemicals of fireworks,” said a Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) official.

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The domes, buildings and floors of the shrine complex were cleaned for the festive occasion.

The shrine complex wore a new look on the outside as the whole market and residential area around the shrine has been renovated and given a fresh look.

“Dal roti ghar di, Diwali Amritsar di (food from home and Diwali of Amritsar) is the popular saying. Lakhs of people have come to mark the occasion. There is festive spirit,” said SGPC member Manjit Singh.

The day is celebrated in Sikh religion as ‘Bandi Chhor Diwas’ (prisoner liberation day) as on this day in 1619, the sixth guru of Sikhs, Guru Hargobind, returned to Amritsar after being released along with 52 princes by Mughal Emperor Jahangir from Gwalior prison.

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The guru and the princes arrived in Amritsar during Diwali festivities. Since then, the Bandi Chhor Diwas and Diwali celebrations coincide at the Golden Temple complex.

Elsewhere in Punjab, markets wore a festive look on the occasion of Diwali. Hundreds of people thronged various markets in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and other towns.

The festival spirit for Diwali could also be seen in Chandigarh and towns and cities in Haryana. (IANS)

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  • Ruchika Kumari

    Firework is not good for environment and for health……there should be total ban on firework

  • Shivam Thaker

    It is uplifting to know that while some parts of our country are ignorant when it comes to festivals and environmental concerns, some of us are still cautious enough to enjoy without polluting our motherland.

  • Shivani Vohra

    It’s great to celebrate Bandi Chhor Diwas along with Diwali in such a beautiful way.

Next Story

‘Concept of equality’ pervades world’s biggest community kitchen

The Golden Temple complex itself gets millions of visitors from across the country and other parts of the world annually

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Bangla Sahib is one of the most famous place of worship of Sikhs in Delhi. Wikimedia Commons
Equality is important for the biggest community. Wikimedia Commons

If there is one big leveller for people, irrespective of their religion, caste, gender, social status or riches, it is the “langar”, or community kitchen, at the Golden Temple complex, where the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Harmandir Sahib, is located, in this city considered holy by Sikhs.

Referred to as the world’s largest community kitchen, the Sri Guru Ram Das Jee Langar Hall of the Golden Temple complex is unique in several aspects. On an average, it feeds over 100,000 people daily — from children to old people — from all religions, castes, regions, countries; and people from varied social, economic and political backgrounds.

“It is a 24×7 operation that carries on day and night all 365 days of the year. This has been going on for centuries, since the concept of langar was introduced by Guru Nanak Dev (the first Guru of the Sikh religion and its founder; born 1469) and propagated by other Gurus,” Wazir Singh, senior in-charge of the langar preparation, told IANS here.

Unlike other government organisations and institutions in India, there are no provisions for reservations based on caste or religion. Wikimedia commons
The Golden Temple complex provides food for many. Wikimedia Commons

At any given point of the day or night, the place is not only swarmed by devotees wanting to partake what is considered as blessed by service but by hundreds of volunteers who are ever-so-ready to be part of the voluntary cooking and serving process. The langar food is even sent thrice daily to the two Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC)-run hospitals in Amritsar, especially to a ward where treatment of mentally-ill patients and drug-addicts is being carried out. The SGPC is tasked with the management all Sikh shrines.

“We have over 500 volunteer employees. The sangat (community) also pitches in with great enthusiasm daily. People come from across Punjab on trucks and tractor-trolleys — even other states, different countries — to help in this massive exercise of making and serving food. Several local residents, including women, have been coming here for years. People take time out of their government and private jobs to serve here, irrespective of their religion or caste. We welcome everyone with love,” Wazir Singh, speaking in Punjabi, pointed out, even as he continued to issue instructions to staffers involved in cooking the langar.

The langar is all vegetarian — comprising mainly of dal (maa-chole ki dal), rice (slightly salted for taste), chapattis, achar (pickle) and a vegetable, along with something sweet (kheer or prasad). In the morning, the “chai langar” comprises of tea and rusk.

The devotees sit down on the matted floor inside the langar hall in rows. To manage the huge rush, the SGPC volunteers allow only a few hundred to enter the hall at one time. The whole operation is carried out in a meticulous manner as a daily routine.

Also Read: ‘Government chalked out 1984 anti-Sikh genocide’

“The whole exercise is quite enormous but it goes on, with the blessings of the almighty, seamlessly. The daily expense is around Rs 15 lakh. We use 100 quintals (100 kg) rice and up to 30 kg (each) of dal and vegetables daily. Over 100 LPG cylinders (domestic size) are used daily for the cooking along with hundreds of kilograms of firewood for the traditional cooking. Nearly 250 kg of ‘desi ghee’ (clarified butter) is used in the cooking. We have over three lakh steel plates. We can serve 10 lakh (one million) people in a day,” Gurpreet Singh, in-charge of the kitchen, told IANS. SGPC functionaries pointed out that 30,000-35,000 people from Amritsar and nearby areas are daily visitors to the shrine and partake langar thrice. Many of these are migrants from other states and poor people who cannot afford meals.

“Our doors are open for everyone without discrimination. We follow the concept of equality here,” said Amrit Pal Singh, a SGPC official at the Information Office. The chapattis, in the thousands, are made on eight chapatti-making machines and even by hand by women and men volunteers. The steel utensils (plates, glasses and spoons), used by devotees, also numbering in lakhs, are washed voluntarily by the devotees themselves or by volunteers.

“The shrine complex has such a spiritual attraction about it. The langar served here leaves you satisfied in many aspects. The whole experience touches your soul,” Ramesh Goyal, a devotee from Bathinda, said.

“I had always heard about this shrine. Today, what I experienced was heavenly. The langar service is unparalleled in any religion. They do it with so much devotion and humility despite such huge crowds. It is unimaginable,” Tariq Ahmed, who had come here with his family from Patna in Bihar, told IANS. Anup Singh, a young Sikh devotee from Amritsar, often accompanies his grandparents and parents to the shrine.

Sikh Community, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh
Children belonging to Sikh Community, Wikimedia Commons 

“I love to serve chapattis to the people having langar. It is a very satisfying and fulfilling experience,” he said. “The whole exercise is carried out selflessly. It is a big task but everything is carried out smoothly. We keep introducing changes depending on the needs of the devotees,” Roop Singh, Chief Secretary of the SGPC, told IANS.

The SGPC, known as the mini-parliament of Sikh religion, manages the Golden Temple complex and gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. It has an annual budget of over Rs 1,100 crore, mostly from donations at the gurdwaras.

The Golden Temple complex itself gets millions of visitors from across the country and other parts of the world annually. The strong Sikh diaspora in other countries like United States, Britain and Canada actively contributes to the shrine and visits it whenever they can. IANS