Thursday, June 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No martyrdom day function
Sangat goes by Nanakshahi calendar
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, June 4
Despite an appeal by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to observe the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev today according to the national calendar, the Sikh sangat seems to have sided with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on the issue by deciding to observe the martyrdom day on June 16 according to the Nanakshahi Calendar.

No functions were organised in the city as well as in other parts of the district to mark the martyrdom day of the Guru. Sources said the issue had been decided yesterday itself when all gurdwaras, which are in the vanguard of all such functions, asked the sangat to desist from organising functions today according to the old calendar.

Nagar Kirtans and all-night religious functions attended by “ragis” will now be organised on June 16 to mark the occasion. While the gurdwaras seemed to have sent the message across to the Sikh community effectively, people also forwent a time-honoured tradition of holding “chhabeels” which is the hallmark of the day. According to the sources, due to the intense heatwave conditions, a few “chhabeels” were held in the city but the organisers said these were not organised to mark the Guru’s martyrdom day but had been held as a social welfare activity due to the heatwave conditions.

Meanwhile, a visit to the Dukhniwaran and Moti Bagh gurdwaras in the city showed that there was no special rush today. The people visiting the gurdwaras said it had been conveyed to them a few days ago that henceforth all religious functions would be organised according to the Nanakshahi Calendar and that they had come as a matter of routine only.

PHAGWARA: The Nanakshahi Calendar passed its first test on Wednesday as the Sikh sangat did not observe the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev even though the Punjab Government had declared a holiday on Wednesday as per the national calendar. According to the Nanakshahi Calendar, the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev falls on June 16.

None of the 20-odd local gurdwaras observed the ‘shaheedi divas’ on Wednesday nor were “chhabeels” organised here. Even the gurdwaras managed by the non-Akalis did not observe the martyrdom day and chose to go with the mainstream Sikh sangat by deciding to celebrate it on June 16.

BATALA: The martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev was solemnised here on Wednesday with fervour. “Chhabeels” were arranged in all parts of the town.

TARN TARAN: Langars and “chhabeels” were organised here by devotees on Wednesday on the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev. However, the attendance of the devotees at the gurdwaras was badly affected due to the variation in the date of the martyrdom day in the Nanakshahi Calendar issued by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. According to the Nanakshahi Calendar, the martyrdom day is to be observed on June 16. The devotees paid their obeisance at the local Sri Darbar Sahib and had a holy dip in the sarovar.

AMRITSAR: The Nanakshahi Calendar announcing the date for the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev as June 16 got a boost on Wednesday as the observance of this day according to the national calendar found few takers.

Few customary “chhabeels” that mark this historic day were seen in the city on Wednesday. Besides, langars were also not organised.


Centre seeks English version of calendar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 4
The Union Home Ministry has sought the English version of the Nanakshahi Calendar from the SGPC. This was disclosed here today by the SGPC President, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, who had written a letter to the Union Government asking it to declare holidays pertaining to the Sikh Gurus and religious functions.

The copies of the calendar have also been sent to all state governments, all Governors and others concerned making them a similar request.

The SGPC President said that he was hopeful that the Union Government would declare the holidays as per the Nanakshahi Calendar once its English version was provided to it. In fact, in a way the Union Home Ministry has accepted the calendar as it has given its approval to send a Sikh jatha to Pakistan to observe the Martyrdom Day of Guru Arjun Dev on June 16.

Claiming that in no SGPC managed gurdwara the Martyrdom Day was observed today, Mr Badungar said it would be observed on June 16. When told that Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had given a statement that his government would follow the national calendar, Mr Badungar shot back that there was no “national calendar” in the country.

He said that Capt Amarinder Singh was perhaps not aware of the fact that the Union Government was following the “colonial calendar” that was implemented long back in the country by the British.

Mr Badungar, who is also a member of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Shiromani Akali Dal, today raised a banner of revolt against the Central Government of which SAD is an alliance partner.

Raising certain emotionally and highly sensitive issues, Mr Badungar said here today that the Centre was discriminating against Sikhs while making appointments in important institutions such as judiciary, armed forces, Indian embassies abroad and central universities. He even attacked the Punjab Government for ignoring the retired and serving Sikh officers while filling the slots in the institutions such as the Punjab State Human Rights Commission and the Punjab Law Commission, etc.

He has written to the President, the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister and others drawing the attention in this connection.

Mr Badungar has claimed that he is saying this as the President of the SGPC but it appears that he must have consulted Mr Badal before making such a wide-ranging statement having serious political overtones. The statement of Mr Badungar has come only a few hours before the scheduled meeting tomorrow between the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and other high priests and Mr Badal.

It seems that through Mr Badungar, Mr Badal has tried to convey to the Vajpayee government that it should not take the SAD support for granted. Secondly, through him, Mr Badal has tried to stave off the criticism that the leadership of SAD was not serious as far as protecting the interest of Sikhs is concerned. Third, Mr Badungar appears to have tried to make his own constituency among the Sikhs as it is clear to him that after the Akali unity, he may have to make way for Mr Tohra as president of the SGPC.

Today, Mr Badungar even did not spare Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, a SAD minister in the Union Cabinet. When reminded that Mr Dhindsa was part of the Central Government against whom allegation of discrimination was being levelled, Mr Badungar said that he was aware of this fact and the truth was that the Union Government had not given the Sikhs their due. “I am not asking for any reservation for the Sikhs in top positions and wanted that the appointments should be made in top places on the basis of merit, credibility and honesty”, he added.

“Is there not a single Sikh advocate or judge talented enough to be appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court? he questioned. There had been no Sikh judge on the Supreme Court Bench since 1996 when Justice Kuldeep Singh retired. Since Independence only two Sikhs had been appointed as Judges to the Supreme Court, while other minority communities were getting substantial representation, he added.Back

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