April 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India
Gold-plating of Durgiana Temple
Amritsar, April 8
The temple and its pool of nectar beckons not only Hindus but people of other faiths as well. The scene of the kar seva gives a unique picture of voluntary service as gilding and gold plating of the surroundings of main dome are being done by both Hindus and Sikhs. The project will take approximately one year to complete and entails multi-disciplinary work such as gold gilding, gold plating, marble work and fresco paintings requiring artisans and master craftsmen from all over India.
Using traditional methods, master craftsmen skilled in dome construction, embossing, pattern work in copper plates have been hard at work. The gilding process has remained relatively unchanged over the centuries and gold leaf production is carried out manually as per tradition. The gold bars pressed into strips of ribbon are cut into approximately one square inch sections, placed in a leather bound book and pounded by hand into gold leaves.
The word ‘Durgiana’ (after which the temple has been named), derives its name from Goddess Durga in the Durgiana tirath, which points to a pious concern on the part of some celebrated sage who propitiated Durga to seek her gracious protection against post-war epidemics. Durga’s temple at Durgiana tirath is indeed a landmark in the history of this holy place for the name Durgiana is directly associated with Durga to whom devotees offer prayers for protection against epidemics. The practice of sprinkling of watered milk as a blessing from goddess Durga is reminiscent of sprinkling of nectar by the goddess over some heroes in the holy war. Mr Nand Lal Nagpal, general secretary of the Durgiana Committee, said the mural paintings on the temple walls at the Durga shrine belonged to the Kangra school of art which dated back to centuries. Devotees pay homage to seek blessings at the Seetla temple at the 700-year-old Durgiana tirath. Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, who has been directly associated with the shrine for more than three decades, claimed that there were records that even British officers visited the Seetla temple at Durgiana shrine during the critical days of epidemics.
The foundation stone of the premises of Durgiana ‘sarovar’ was laid on January 4, 1921. The foundation ceremony of Durgiana Mandir was performed in February 1921 on the auspicious occasion of ‘basant’ festival. Mr Gopi Chand Bhatia, president of the Durgiana committee, said the committee was registered on April 25, 1927. The “murti sthapna” (idol installation) of Lakshmi Narain was done on June 10, 1927, to make ‘Ganga Dashmi’. The third kar seva (voluntary service) of the holy tank was completed on March 7, 1999, with the initiative of Mr Vijay Kumar Chopra, patron of the Durgiana committee in which more than one crore devotees of all faiths participated. The then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, gave a grant of Rs 1 crore from his discretionary funds for face-lifting of the shrine. The kar seva was completed after a gap of 25 years. It is just a coincidence that the previous kar seva was initiated by the late Lala Jagat Narain, father of Mr Chopra. The first kar seva was done in 1925.
A major part of the shrine has already been completed by the Durgiana temple committee. Special attention has been given to facelifting the surroundings of Durgiana shrines. The following works stand completed during the kar seva construction of the platforms for bathing round the ‘sarovar’, gold plating of tombs of main temple and fixing of six silver doors, renovation of the kitchen of God Lakshmi Narain, fixing of metal barricades and repair of floor of bara Hanuman mandir (internationally famous temple of Hanumanji).
The Durgiana committee has also renovated the old serai completed facelifting of ‘bhog bhandar’ (sells sweets of 56 kinds on no profit no loss basis). Apart from this the Shiv Puri cremation ground is also being given a facelift.
The future plan of the Durgiana committee is to remodel the entire ‘parikarma’ of the shrine. The committee also proposes to build a birdh ghar (house for the old) and a girls hostel for the ayurvedic college being run by the committee.
The committee has also purchased 30,000 yards land for building an ultra-modern ‘gaushala’ near the ancient Ram Tirath temple. After Rajasansi airport, the committee proposes to install a replica of the Durgiana temple at the railway station.
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