spice­oflife Ideals from a heav­enly place of wor­ship Dr Kirti Dua

Hindustan Times (Amritsar) - - Hthimachalppollpprimer - kir­tidua@ya­hoo.com The writer is a pro­fes­sor of vet­eri­nary sci­ence in Lud­hi­ana

Dur­ing the re­cent Dussehra holidays, we planned to pay obei­sance at Har­man­dar Sahib in Am­rit­sar and stay the night there. We reached in the evening and as we en­tered the main gate, the il­lu­mi­na­tion and seren­ity left us spell­bound.

The Gur­bani was be­ing re­cited and its mean­ing was be­ing dis­played on big screens at the shrine’s parikarma, mak­ing it a mean­ing­ful ex­pe­ri­ence for peo­ple like me. Around 10pm, there was ar­das (prayer) at the Golden Tem­ple and we were told that it was time to take Guru Granth Sahib from the Sachk­hand (sanc­tum sanc­to­rum) to Akal Takht, the supreme tem­po­ral seat of the Sikhs.

We oc­cu­pied a place on the parikarma near Dar­shani

THE GOLDEN TEM­PLE LAN­GAR HALL IS THE BIG­GEST COM­MU­NITY KITCHEN, WHERE 1 LAKH DEVO­TEES TAKE MEALS DAILY. THERE ISN’T A SIN­GLE IN­STANCE WHERE FOOD HAS FALLEN SHORT OF THE RE­QUIRE­MENT

De­ori from where we could see the cer­e­mony.

Soon, the jour­ney of Guru Granth Sahib started from Har­man­dar Sahib in a beau­ti­fully dec­o­rated golden palan­quin with a se­wadar (care­taker) blow­ing a trum­pet in front. Guru Granth Sahib was taken in­side for sukhasan (night stay) at Akal Takht.

A rush of devo­tees gath­ered to catch a glimpse of the heav­enly splen­dour.

There­after, we de­cided to par­take of lan­gar (com­mu­nity kitchen) in the hall. At the en­trance of the lan­gar hall, there was a long queue and a se­wadar in his seven­ties was dis­tribut­ing thalis (plates) en­thu­si­as­ti­cally, chant­ing “Bol Wahe Guru”.

His en­ergy and de­vo­tion were awe-in­spir­ing. Af­ter 15 min­utes, the doors of the lan­gar hall opened and we sat in pan­gat (a row). In no time, lan­gar was served by dis­ci­plined se­wadars.

Peo­ple from all walks, from far and near, par­took of the lan­gar. Milk was pro­vided for chil­dren.

Said to be started by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev, the tra­di­tion of lan­gar be­gan in 1481. It is the same place where Mughal em­peror Ak­bar had his lan­gar sit­ting in pan­gat (row) with com­mon peo­ple when he vis­ited Guru Amar Das.

Main­tain­ing this tra­di­tion is sim­ply beyond words.

The Golden Tem­ple lan­gar hall is the big­gest com­mu­nity kitchen in the world, where nearly 1 lakh devo­tees take their meals daily.

There is not a sin­gle in­stance where it has fallen short of the re­quire­ment. It took 15-20 min­utes to serve the lan­gar.

Once the vis­i­tors were done with their meals, the lan­gar hall was cleaned metic­u­lously. A group of en­thu­si­as­tic se­wadars took our uten­sils for wash­ing.

We headed to­wards the serai (inn) for the overnight stay.

The num­ber of devo­tees was far more than that which could be ac­com­mo­dated in the serai. One could find peo­ple settling down along the parikarma and pas­sages.

At 4.45am the next day, the jour­ney of Guru Granth Sahib started from Akal Takht to Sachkand.

Devo­tees show­ered rose petals on the palan­quin.

De­spite the rush of devo­tees, the shrine is ab­so­lutely clean. The govern­ment has cho­sen the shrine as an iconic place un­der the Swachch Bharat mis­sion.

Golden Tem­ple teaches us lessons in equal­ity, hu­mil­ity, gen­eros­ity, clean­li­ness and en­thu­si­asm to­wards duty.

A visit to the holy place will be mean­ing­ful only if we adopt th­ese val­ues and make them a part of our daily life.

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