Seva Safai

CLEAN­EST RE­LI­GIOUS TOWN GOLDEN TEM­PLE, AM­RIT­SAR, PUN­JAB

India Today - - SAFAIGIRI - —Asit Jolly

The Golden Tem­ple and the ex­ten­sive com­plex that sur­rounds it are largely kept clean by devo­tees. Though the Shi­ro­mani Gur­d­wara Pra­band­hak Com­mit­tee (SGPC), which man­ages the shrine, em­ploys sev­eral peo­ple as se­vadars and man­agers, over 90 per cent of the work is done by devo­tees who view this as seva, or re­li­gious ser­vice. This in­cludes help­ing out in the lan­gar (com­mu­nity kitchen), serv­ing wa­ter to thirsty vis­i­tors and clean­ing the tem­ple com­plex. The sanc­tum sanc­to­rum is washed clean once a day, be­fore dawn. The parikrama, the white mar­ble walk­way that fringes the Am­rit Sarovar, is washed clean twice a day.

And there is no dearth of vol­un­teers. SGPC func­tionar­ies and Am­rit­sar mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion au­thor­i­ties es­ti­mate that 100,000 peo­ple visit the tem­ple each day, with many more on fes­ti­vals. The to­tal foot­fall ex­ceeds 50 mil­lion an­nu­ally. Many de­vout Sikh fam­i­lies make it a prac­tice to spend a month or more ev­ery year per­form­ing seva. In fact, per­form­ing seva at the Golden Tem­ple tran­scends re­li­gious bound­aries— sev­eral Hindu res­i­dents of Am­rit­sar reg­u­larly join in with equal de­vo­tion.

Sadly, keep­ing the area sur­round­ing the Golden Tem­ple com­plex clean re­mains a chal­lenge. The SGPC and mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion strug­gle with over­stretched fa­cil­i­ties, a lack of space to build and main­tain pub­lic con­ve­niences and the chal­lenge of con­vinc­ing res­i­dents and vis­i­tors that the out­side is just as im­por­tant at the in­side. The mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion is now work­ing on con­struct­ing more toi­lets, in­stalling bio-im­pactors and smart-waste bins as well as a bio-meth­ane plant to use the wet waste gen­er­ated by the lan­gar more pro­duc­tively.

PRABHJOT GILL

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