Upscale restaurant instead of canteen at serai near Golden Temple upsets devotees
AMRITSAR : Ignoring the demand for opening a canteen that could offer food and refreshment at affordable prices to devotees, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has allowed a private upscale restaurant to operate at the Golden Temple’s Saragarhi Serai.
The restaurant opened two weeks ago at a hall reserved for offering refreshment facility on the ground floor of the nine-storey serai. The ₹44 crore building, along the Heritage Street, was opened in April 2017. The restaurant, a commercial venture, is even being promoted outside the serai and is also offering the facility of free home delivery.
“This restaurant is only meant for the rich. Normal devotees cannot afford it. Only tourists or well-off devotees can use this restaurant. Common devotees are rarely seen eating food there,” an SGPC employee, working with the serai department said, on the condition of anonymity.
He added that sometimes people who were not even staying in the serai were frequenting the restaurant, creating problems for gatekeepers in identifying the inmates and maintaining order. The need for a refreshment hall at the Saragarhi serai was felt as this is not as close to the langar hall of the Golden Temple, as other accommodation facilities.
“This is a serai, not a hotel. The gurdwara management body, the SGPC, claims that the Golden Temple is not a tourist spot. The opening of such a fancy and expensive item contradicts this logic,” said Jatinder Singh, a devotee from Jalandhar.
Another devotee, Kabal Singh from Patiala, said, “Opening of this expensive eatery also hits at the concept of langar (community kitchen). The Golden Temple has the largest langar hall in the world. This is commercialisation of the serais.”
Many devotees have also taken exception to a menu item named, ‘Cigar Roll’ on the pure vegetarian restaurant. Devotees claim that cigar is associated with smoking tobacco, something strictly prohibited in the Sikh religion.
Golden Temple manager Jaswinder Singh Deenpur said, “We gave the serai hall to the contractor for the purpose of running a canteen, I don’t know how it was converted into a restaurant. I am at the Patna Sahib (Bihar) right now for the celebration of Guru Gobind Singh’s Parkash Purb. I will look into the high prices of food items once I return.” However, he did not disclose the name of the contractor.
Sources added that the SGPC had conducted an auction for opening a refreshment centre inside this serai at a high price, with the contractor said to be a politician.
The restaurant opened two weeks ago in a hall that was reserved for providing refreshment to devotees in the serai.