Monday 26 October 2020

Permanent and independent mechanism needed to preserve Sikh heritage

- Posted on 02 April 2019

Chandigarh, April 2: The Sikhs did not protest when Anandpur Sahib Fort was demolished.

The Sikhs did not protest when Chamkaur Di Garhi was razed.

The Sikhs did not protest when Thanda Burj at Fatehgarh Sahib was brought down.

All these three monuments were associated with Guru Gobind Singh.

The Sikhs did not object when the two towers of Bunga Rangarhia were disfigured while carrying our repairs by the SGPC and the walls covered with garish tiles. These towers had suffered damage during the army attack on the Golden Temple complex code named Operation Bluestar in 1984.

These are only a few examples.

The only time when some people raised their voice was when bathroom tiles were plastered on the walls of Baba Atal next to the Golden Temple on the walls to cover the damaged murals.

Can anyone point out original building of any gurdwara in India reflecting the Sikh architecture?

The only original gurdwaras symbolising the Sikh architecture are in Pakistan.

The Sikh heritage in India stands destroyed. These original buildings associated with Sikh history and struggles have been replaced by marble monsters, almost in the same shape and style.

These marble monsters don’t reflect the Sikh ethos and philosophy.

Going by the cliché, the community that can’t preserve its heritage is always doomed. The Sikhs to an extent have undone their glorious past and this suits the ruling classes.

Just don’t blame the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee or the demolition squads that are Kar Sewa babas. These babas did not pick up hammers at their own and demolished the heritage. They were assigned these tasks over the years. The Sikhs never objected or protested.

The custodian of the Sikh heritage is the SGPC but technically, only in the area under its jurisdiction. Delhi area is under Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managament Committee while separate boards are there for Hazoor Sahib, Patna Sahib and Jammu and Kashmir.

It may be mentioned that only timely intervention had saved the original Takht constructed by Guru Hargobind when the Akal Takht repaired by the government after Operation Bluestar was being brought down.

Several historical structures around the Golden Temple complex were demolished during the so called beautification drive.

The demolition of Deodi of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Tarn Taran is a wakeup call. The resolution to demolish it was adopted by the SGPC and the job was assigned to Baba Jagtar Singh whose first attempt was frustrated by some aware Sikhs.

Strong reaction among the Sikhs is a heartening sign in the era of social media.

The issue is how to go about preserving whatever is left of the Sikh heritage.

This includes the historical buildings in the Sikh native land that is Pakistan.

One way out is to launch global foundation for preserving Sikh heritage structures by involving experts. It is useless to blame anybody now as the Sikhs as a community should own up this blunder as they never raised their voice. This foundation should have global representation. It’s only objective should be preservation of Sikh heritage and if possible, also propagation of Sikh thought and ideology on modern lines.

Modalities should be worked out in consultation with bodies like the SGPC and DSGMC, besides experts in Sikh architecture.

The issue is who should take the lead. Bodies like Khalsa Aid has already being recognised at the global level. Let there be similar initiative, confined only to this sensitive aspect.

The immediate concern now should be to save the Golden Temple from predators as originality is already under attack.

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