News & Views
Bibi Rajinder Kaur Passes Away
With the departure of Sardarni Rajinder Kaur, wife of Bhai Ashok Singh Bagrian, founder member of Institute of Sikh Studies, on July 23, 2021. The Institute has lost forever a valuable patron and an active particepant in our activities. She was a source of strength and inspiration to Bhai Sahib in his active service to the Institute and other Sikh organizations. We pray for peace to the departed soul and strength to Bhai Sahib to bear this irreparable loss.
Lecture on English Translation of Gurbani and Sikh Classics
Prof Kulwant Singh delivered a lecture at the Seminar Hall of Punjabi University, Campus, Patiala on September 10, 2021 at 11.00 AM on the topic "Challenges and Complexities of English translation of Gurbani text and text of poetical Sikh classic Primary Sources". The lecture was organized by the Department of Encyclopaedia of Sikhism on the occasion of annual Col Harpartap Singh Memorial Lectures series. Attended by the students, research scholas and faculty members of the Department of Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Religious studies and Guru Granth Sahib Studies, it was followed by a lively discussion and perceptive comments by Dr Paramvir Singh, Dr Swaraj Singh and Dr Sukhdyal Singh.
Press Release on the Remnants of Heritage Excavated during the Recent Digging at Amritsar
July 30, 2021. The SGPC has shown indifference and callousness towards the remnants of heritage excavated during the recent digging in the vicinity of Akal Takht and in the periphery of Parikarma. This heritage site is reported to be the erstwhile Gianian da Bunga.
It needs to be remembered that Bungas have always occupied a cherished place in the memory of the Sikh people. Ardas, the congregational prayer of the Sikhs, visualizes the Bungas staying for eternity (Jhande Bunge Jugo Jug Atal). The attitude of SGPC imagining this place as an unhistorical building is lamentable, to say the least. The Institute of Sikh Studies opposes any attempt of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to demolish any part of Gianian da Bunga discovered during the excavation. The significance of this Bunga was that it was a prominent part of the elaborate system of education prevalent during the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It may be added that the extensive Ranjit Singh Bunga was also located nearby which was used by Ranjit Singh to visit Darbar Sahib during his private visits. It is quite possible that some part of this building too might be destroyed if the demolishing of the site continues unabated.
Further we are very concerned about the loss of the essential spirit of Kar Seva. The concept of ‘Karsewa’ has changed drastically during the last 20 or so years. What was to be done by hands, and was supposed to be by the ‘Sangat’, is now being entrusted to ‘babas’, who act as contractors entrusted with a job. The use of spiritless machines for Kar Seva is not only surprising but disgusting too. This reflects the degeneration of the SGPC and its Dharam Prachar Committee. The Institute of Sikh Studies will hold a seminar on this issue soon.
The Institute of Sikh Studies is of the view that the historicity of this site be examined by the historians, experts and archaeologists before any further harm to the building is done. The Directorate of Archaeology and Culture of the Punjab Govt is requested to take up the issue with SGPC to get the damage to the heritage site stopped.
– Institute of Sikh Studies
Garden with 6,000 Trees named in Gurbani opens in Moga Village
Six years after the residents of village Patto Heera Singh of Moga had vacated at least five acres of land – removing encroachments, filth, and garbage – for a dedicated ‘Guru Ka Bagh’ (Guru’s Garden), their efforts have finally started to bear fruits, literally.
On Monday, the ‘Guru Granth Sahib Bagh’, with plantation of more than 6000 trees and shrubs of 58 species, which finds a mention in the Gurbani (Guru’s teachings), was inaugurated at the historical village Patto Heera Singh which is believed to have been visited by four Sikh Gurus – Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Hargobind Singh, Guru Har Rai, and Guru Gobind Singh.
In March 2015, the villagers of Patto Heera Singh had joined hands with ‘EcoSikh’ – a US-based organization that works on environmental issues – and formed a society PETALS (Patto Eco Tree and Landscaping Society). The village had spent around Rs 35 lakh to free 13 acres of land from encroachments, garbage, and an underground irrigation system was installed. Five acres were dedicated to ‘Guru Ka Bagh’ to cultivate and conserve plant species that find mention in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
On Monday, the first of its kind garden, ‘Guru Granth Sahib Bagh’, in Punjab, was inaugurated in which more than 6000 trees and shrubs have been planted, with a related reference from Gurbani along with its meaning.
Some of the rare plant species that have been planted in the garden include sandalwood, clove, supari, rudraksh, mahua, simbal, palash, bamboos, henna, akk.
Professor Manjit Singh, former jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, and Padma Shri, Dr Surjit Patar, chairman of Punjab Arts Council were among those who attended the inauguration ceremony on Monday along with volunteers who worked for years to develop the unique garden.
Professor Manjit Singh said, “Sikh Gurus always used nature as an example to teach life lessons. This unique project brings forth their messages beautifully and powerfully. Over 500 years ago, Sikh Gurus exhorted humans to not exploit nature but to live in harmony with it.”
Dr Surjit Patar, eminent poet, and chairman of Punjab Arts Council said that the garden shows the positive legacy of the spiritual leaders of the sub-continent of over 500 years.
Ravneet Singh, EcoSikh manager for South Asia, said that the garden was the first such in which nearly all species mentioned in the Gurbani have been planted. “This idea is to inspire people towards environmental conservation and preservation of traditional flora and fauna. We are thankful to members of PETALS and villagers who gave the land for establishing Guru Granth Sahib Bagh.” (Courtesy: The Indian Express, September 21, 2021)
Devotee to Present Rs 1.73-cr ‘kalgi’ at Sri Hazur Sahib
A Sikh devotee, Dr Gurwinder Singh Samra, who runs Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital at Kartarpur (near Jalandhar), will present a diamond-studded gold ‘kalgi’ (an ornament usually worn on the front of the turban and consists of a single feather or a cluster of feathers) at Takht Sri Hazur Sahib in Nanded (Maharashtra).
Costing around Rs 1.73 crore, the ‘kalgi’ and ‘chandoa’ (special decorative fabric hung above the Guru Granth Sahib) will be presented to the Jathedar of Takht Sri Hazur Sahib at the gurdwara tomorrow. Sikh scholars Giani Jaswinder Singh Dardi and Jagjit Singh Jaggi will be present on the occasion.
Talking to The Tribune, Dr Samra said the ‘kalgi’ was made of about 2.5 kg of gold, in which a large number of gems including ruby, topaz and sapphire have been studded.
“Its crust has been inlayed with about 2,000 pieces of diamonds by Delhi-based jewellers. Artisans from Ahmedabad, Surat and Jaipur were engaged for the task and it took them a year’s span to complete the task,” he said.
The Samra family reached the shrine today with the ‘kalgi’ that would be kept for sangat darshan. A special canopy, too, has been made at a cost of Rs 7 lakh. Earlier too, the Samra family had presented a ‘kalgi’ worth Rs 1.3 crore to Takht Sri Patna Sahib and another one at the Golden Temple.
Fund Unutilised, Saragarhi Memorial Awaits Facelift
Even after two years of release of Rs 1 crore grant by the Chief Minister for the beautification and development of the historic Saragarhi memorial, the funds have not been used for the said purpose. The monument was raised to pay homage to 22 valiant 36 Sikh Regiment soldiers of the British Indian Army who died fighting 10,000 Afridis during the Battle of Saragarhi on September 12, 1897, in North-West Frontier Province, now in Pakistan.
After The Tribune on September 9, 2019 highlighted the failure of successive regimes to develop the memorial, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had sanctioned Rs 1 crore to develop the memorial, depicting the saga of unparalleled chivalry in the history of military warfare. However, due to procedural wrangles, development work never took off.
As per information, the district administration had released a tender inviting proposals for preparing detailed project report for the development of the memorial in June, but no progress has been made on ground thereafter. Though a project on the construction of the Tourist Felicitation Centre under centrally funded Swadesh Darshan Scheme is afoot, all promises and commitments by the consecutive state governments have not been honoured till date.
Capt Amarinder Singh had promised to make the memorial as one of the iconic monuments in the country as this saga of Saragarhi has been close to his heart.
Tribute to soldiers
The monument was raised to pay homage to 22 valiant 36 Sikh Regiment soldiers of the British Indian Army who died fighting 10,000 Afridis during the Battle of Saragarhi on September 12, 1897, in North-West Frontier Province, now in Pakistan.
Jallianwala Bagh: Kin of Martyrs Continue Protest Against Revamp
Questions have been raised on the ¹ 20 crore renovation of the Jallianwala Bagh, with the kin of those killed claiming that historic facts have been twist. Amritsar The row over renovation of Jallianwala Bagh, where the then British rulers fired at and killed hundreds of peacefully protesting Indians on April 13, 1919, refuses to die down. Questions have been raised on the ¹ 20 crore renovation, with the kin of those killed claiming that historic facts have been twisted under the garb of renovation and beatification. The families also claim that the original structure has been changed as well, and names of some martyrs are missing. (Courtesy: Hindustan times)
Amritsar Rickshaw-Puller Gets ‘Service to Humanity’ Award
While rickshaw-puller Rajbir Singh (45) of Chheharta town of Amritsar has been selected for Bhagat Puran Singh Award for Service to Humanity, Kumar Saurav Raj, former Deputy Commissioner of Faridkot, has been chosen for the award for honesty.
Rajbir is known for penning the book ‘Rickshaw Tey Chale Zindagi’. The book is a compilation of 14 short stories on his 20-year experience as a rickshaw puller, meeting people of different ages and mindsets. The book has painful but inspiring stories of many poor mechanics, rickshaw-pullers and daily wagers who live a hard life to run their families. He has also installed a donation box in his rickshaw to collect money for the poor.
Instituted in 2000, each award carries Rs 1 lakh and a citation. The awards would be presented on September 23, the concluding day of the Baba Farid Festival, said Inderjeet Singh Khalsa, chairman of the society. — TNS. (Courtesy: The Tribune)
Create Fund for Conservation of Sikh Architecture: Experts
Sikh institutions, businessmen, and government organisations should join hands together to create a Sikh heritage fund on the pattern of World Heritage Fund to undertake research, publication, documentation and conservation of Sikh architecture and heritage. These were the observations of experts at the three-part virtual international symposium on Sikh architecture, which concluded today.
Experts stressed on creating a heritage fund on the pattern of World Heritage Fund to undertake research, publication, documentation and conservation of Sikh architecture and heritage during the three-part virtual international symposium.
The theme of the symposium was contemporary architecture and was organised by Saakaar Foundation. Architect Ramneek Gharial gave the opening remarks. Internationally-renowned Israeli architect Moshe Safdie’s presentation on his project Khalsa Heritage Complex, Anandpur Sahib, was enlightening.
Dr Jyoti Pandey Sharma, professor, School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi, spoke on “Modernising Colonial Punjab”. She said: “Set against the backdrop of a rapidly modernising colonial Punjab, this talk examines the architectural exploits of the ruler of Kapurthala state, Maharaja Jagatjit Singh. It focuses on a mosque built by the Sikh patron for his Muslim subjects demonstrating a feisty spirit of humanism. Kapurthala’s Jama Masjid bears testimony to its patron’s egalitarianism that was truly exceptional for its time”.
Prof Charanjit Singh Shah from New Delhi, who designed Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, talked about the significance of the architecture at the corridor, said: “Dera Baba Nanak Kartarpur Complex is dedicated to Guru Nanak’s mission based on ‘Khanda’, indicating peace, harmony and universal oneness. The holistic approach of integrating art, architecture, interior, display and landscape gives life to the dead brick and concrete and makes the environment lively and puts soul in architecture. The Sikh art and architecture is being experienced as a travel journey of 550 years of Guru Nanak Dev and the Sikhs.”
Architect Surinder Bahga, founder, Saakaar Foundation, while summing up the discussions in three sessions, said: “All experts were of the view that we need to stress on creating a Sikh heritage fund to undertake research, publication, documentation and conservation of Sikh architecture and heritage. We would take up the issue with businessmen, Sikh organisations and different governments” (Courtesy The Tribune, Sept 21, 2021)
The Marines Reluctantly Let a Sikh Officer Wear a Turban. He Says It’s Not Enough
While other armed services allow some religion-based exceptions to dress standards without problems, the Marines insist that even small deviations can threaten the force’s effectiveness.
Almost every morning for five years, First Lt. Sukhbir Toor has pulled on the uniform of the United States Marine Corps. On Thursday, he also got to put on the turban of a faithful Sikh.
It was a first for the Marine Corps, which almost never allows deviations from its hallowed image, and it was a long-awaited chance for the officer to combine two of the things he holds most dear.
“I finally don’t have to pick which life I want to commit to, my faith or my country,” Lieutenant Toor, 26, said in an interview. “I can be who I am and honor both sides.”
His case is the latest in a long-running conflict between two fundamental values in the United States military: the tradition of discipline and uniformity, and the constitutional liberties the armed forces were created to defend.
While Sikh troops in Britain, Australia and Canada have long worn turbans in uniform, and scores of Sikhs do so now in other branches of the military, Lieutenant Toor’s turban is the first in the 246-year history of the Marine Corps. For generations, the Corps has fought any change to its strict appearance standards, saying that uniformity was as essential to a fighting force as well-oiled rifles.
The Marine Corps has made the allowance only to a point. Lieutenant Toor can wear a turban in daily dress at normal duty stations, but he cannot do so while deployed to a conflict zone, or when in dress uniform in a ceremonial unit, where the public could see it.
Lieutenant Toor has appealed the restrictive decision to the Marine Corps commandant, and he says that if he does not get a full accommodation, he will sue the Corps.
“We’ve come a long way, but there is still more to go,” he said. “The Marine Corps needs to show it really means what it has been saying about strength in diversity — that it doesn’t matter what you look like, it just matters that you can do your job.”
Nearly 100 Sikhs currently serve in the Army and Air Force wearing full beards and turbans. A Sikh cadet graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point this spring in a smartly tied white head wrapping, among a sea of brimmed service caps.
“It’s become fairly routine, and there have been very few issues. That’s what makes the Marine response in this case so surprising,” said Giselle Klapper, a civil rights attorney with an advocacy group, the Sikh Coalition, which has helped Sikh troops apply for exceptions.
Requests for accommodations have been rare in the Corps. Among roughly 180,000 active-duty Marines, there have been just 33 applications in recent years for exceptions to uniform regulations on religious grounds, including requests concerning long hair, beards or more modest physical training clothing. About two-thirds of the requests were approved, but before Lieutenant Toor, no one had been given permission to wear a beard or visible religious headwear.
Lieutenant Toor grew up in Washington and Ohio, the son of Indian immigrants. His father wore a beard, a turban and other symbols of Sikh religious devotion, including a simple steel bracelet and small blade that are meant to remind faithful Sikhs that they are expected to act as virtuous — and if necessary, armed — defenders of the innocent and oppressed.