M A I N   N E W S

Sifti da ghar overflows
Massive gathering for 400-year celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib; President arrives today
Ashwini Bhatnagar and Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Devotees pay their obeisance at the Golden Temple during the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Amritsar on Monday.
Devotees pay their obeisance at the Golden Temple during the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Amritsar on Monday.
— PTI photo

Amritsar, August 30
Sifti da ghar is overflowing with devotees and emotions; and as the full rotund moon heaved itself over the crowded horizon this evening, a tumultuous cheer resounded from the Guru’s nagri - Bole so Nihal, Sat Sri Akal. It drenched the 30-lakh odd devotees, who have converged on the Holy City on the eve of the 400-year celebrations of the Guru Granth Sahib, with an unusual fervour.

Heads are bowed towards the Harmandar Sahib. It stands in the middle of the lake of nectar as pristine and glorious as the message which it houses under its roof. The pooranmashi moon dazzles overhead, perhaps dimming the electric lights that bedeck Harmandar Sahib with its illumination. It is a rare sight, and a rare feeling, too, for the Temple, nay the entire city, is practically illuminated by the guiding principles that are contained in the Holy Granth Sahib.

They lap across the tank of nectar, which lies at the feet of the Granth Sahib, and an endless throng of devotees have drunk deep from it through the day. Indeed, ‘Dithe Sabhe Than , Nahin Tud Jehia’ (I have seen all the places, yet nothing is more beautiful or gratifying than you).

Never before has the holy city of Amritsar been so beautifully decorated. It has added to the serenity and festivity of the grand occasion which marks the formal launching of the quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib here today. The Akhand Path began at Gurdwara Ramsar, where Guru Granth Sahib was completed under the direct supervision of fifth Sikh Master, Guru Arjan Dev.

The spirit of the Khalsa is everywhere on display. The deep devotion, compassion, brotherhood and warm hospitality (for which Amritsaris are justly famous) make the journey to this land of values (sifti) a completely overwhelming one.

Three massive ‘Gurmat Chetna Marches’ from Banaras led by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht , Hazoor Sahib and Rajasthan reached here amid chanting of slogans like ‘Bole So Nihal , Sat Sri Akal.’ These religious marches were started by the Bhagats whose ‘Bani’ (hymns) are enshrined in the holy Guru Granth Sahib.

Meanwhile, a direct descendant of Baba Farid (whose Bani is enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib), Nawab Habeeb Jung Bahadur of Hyderabad , His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Sri Sri Sri Ravi Shanker of Art of Living, Khwaja Hassan Nizami of Delhi Dargah, Giani Tanwir Ahmad of Ahmadiyya Muslims and Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti , Jathedar, Akal Takht, will share a common ‘religious stage’ on September 1. The address to the sangat by top religious leaders from different faiths will present a unique picture of communal harmony. Mr Dalmeg Singh , Secretary, SGPC, said that all these religious leaders had confirmed their participation. The advance team of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has already arrived here.

The President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, will be honoured at a special stage being erected outside the SGPC’s Information Office tomorrow. The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, will be honoured along with other dignitaries at a function to be held on September 1 in New Amritsar Four former Prime Ministers, including Mr V.P. Singh, Mr Chandra Shekhar, Mr Inder Kumar Gujral and Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee are among others who would participate in one of the biggest religious gatherings of this millennium.

Interestingly, the SGPC has not extended a formal invitation to Ms Sonia Gandhi, president, Indian National Congress. Leaders of other political parties were formally invited.

One of the largest ever photographic bromide print of Harmandar Sahib will form the backdrop of a stage being erected for the celebrations. A renowned photographer, Mr. Hardev Singh, has filmed and developed a photograph of the Golden Temple. It measures 12 .50 x 50 feet. It will be framed in an original back- lit picture translite. Guru Nishkam Sewak Jatha (U. K) has sponsored the project. The back-lit picture of Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib used as the backdrop of the stage during 300 years celebrations of Khalsa Panth at Anandpur Sahib, was also produced by this lab.

New Delhi: In a message on the eve of his visit, President Abdul Kalam said: “I am happy that the quadri-centennial (400 year) celebrations of the installation of the Guru Granth Sahib are being held in the country from August 31, 2004”.

Describing the Guru Granth Sahib as one of the “greatest treasures” which mankind possess, he said: “It is a scripture of interfaith dialogue and repository of India’s collective spiritual heritage as it contains hymns by great Gurus and Saints from different religions and faiths.”

Conveying his greetings on this auspicious occasion, the President said “let us re-dedicate ourselves on this day to the freedom of human conscience and unity of all religions”.

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