Sodal mela today
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Pilgrims from across the region have started converging for the fair of Baba Sodal scheduled to be held on Wednesday morning. The road from Devi Talab Temple to Sodal Temple has been decorated with buntings while hymns played though the public address system.

Devotees have been coming to the temple since the few days to offer prasad. Prayers are offered to the child deity for fulfillment of a wish.

Most devotees are women, who bring children to pay obeisance. They chant bhajans near the samadh of Baba Sodal.

A Cobra idol is worshipped at the spot where Baba Sodal is said to have immersed. Baba Sodal is said to have taken the form of a Cobra thereafter. The children are given a dip in the pond.

The management has made provisions for the devotees. Langar stalls have been put up by local organisations outside the gates.

Entry inside the temple premises is not easy as vehicles are now allowed to avoid congestion. Devotees have to walk a kilometer to reach the temple.

Security has been set up and police officials have been deputed there for 24 hours. Iron railings have been put so that the devotees form queues and move on a fixed path.

Entry from the Adda Hoshiarpur side is almost impossible as the commuters have to follow a longer congested route while entry from Kishanpura Chowk is relatively easy.

Mr Mandeep Singh, SHO, Division No 3, said all routes meeting Sodal Temple from Doaba Chowk, Saipur Road near Kali Mata Mandir, factory of Leader Valves and Chandan Nagar railway crossing have been closed. No vehicles are allowed there. Parking arrangements had been made at LR Doaba School and Sabzi Mandi, Industrial Area.

An obedient son

The one-day fair is associated with Sodal, a small boy who came to be revered. It is held to commemorate his death anniversary at his samadh. The fair is held once a year in the month of Bhadon which roughly corresponds to mid-September.

The celebration take place on the 14th of Shukal Paksh (bright half of the lunar month), the day on which the child deity left for his heavenly abode.

Women come early morning to make offering at the samadh.

According to legend, Sodal was born in Chadha clan of Khatri caste in Jalandhar.

One day his mother went to the nearby pond to wash clothes. Despite her repeatedly asking him to go back, he followed her. She lost her temper and shouted at him, “Have you come here to die? Go and drown yourself in the pond.” Sodal asked her three times to repeat the words, which she did. Sodal then plunged into the water never to appear again. According to another version, he simply transformed himself into a snake and bored himself into the earth.

Inside the samadh, there is a painted portrait of Baba Sodal decorated with garlands and rosaries and is looked after by a separate priest.

There is a tank called ‘Baba Sodal-da-Sarowar’.

Pilgrims of all religions come to the fair from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. 

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Baba Seechewal on education mission
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, the Chairman of the Ek Onkar Charitable Trust, has been in news for cleansing the sacred Kali Bein.

This is not the only social cause for which Baba Seechewal has worked; the others have gone unnoticed by the media. Baba Seechewal has been providing free education to children from economically weaker and downtrodden sections of society in Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district since January.

As many as 170 children most of them residing in jhuggis near the Talwandi Bypass bridge are being taught in the open.

Most of them are children of migrant labourers from Bihar. They are unable to afford education for their children. Baba Seechewal, who has been in Sultanpur Lodhi for more than six years, made arrangements for their studies early this year.

The students aged 3 to 12 years are taught in five classes from first to fifth. Baba Seechewal has named the school Nawan Nankana Open School. He told The Tribune that arrangements would be made for the children studying in fifth class to appear in the board examination like private candidates.

He took the services of four educated migrants to teach them.

One of the four, Mr Alok Nath Tiwari is a priest at Sanathan Dharam Sabha Mandir. Baba Seechewal was pays each teacher Rs 2000, he revealed. Other teachers Mr Bhushan Paswan, Mr Balak Paswan and Mr Brahm Dass also praised Baba Seechewal for undertaking the cause.

Baba Seechewal said the school would be upgraded every year as had been done at Sant Avtar Singh Yadgaari School at Seechewal village in Jalandhar district.

The school was started for providing quality education to the needy children of Seechewal and adjacent villages several years ago.

The school at Seechewal was started from first class, upgraded by a class every year.

The Trust had to open Sant Avtar Singh Yadgaari College to accommodate the students. 

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Marriage — ticket to foreign shores
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

A teacher in Phagwara was taken aback by a plea for help by a young girl student. “My parents want me to marry a 42-year-old just because they want me to settle down abroad and he has promised them a good life in Canada.” The 21-year-old girl’s parents were more eager on settling down abroad than finding a befitting partner for their daughter.

Matrimony has become the easiest way to a ticket abroad. Many parents in Phagwara too are keen to see their children go and settle abroad, says Mukta Bhardwaj, secretary, Nari Chetna Manch (NCM). Mukta says the NCM can only help the girls’ cause if they show enough courage to stand up for themselves.

“We want to make such parents realise that girls too have the right to choose their life partners and going abroad is not the only priority. Just look at any matrimonial column and you will get to know that nobody wants a ‘suitable match’ but a ‘deal’ for citizenship.

For instance look at these advertisements: “Wanted a beautiful bride for Canadian Jat Sikh 25/5’-10. Girl should preferably be a qualified nurse or a B.Sc degree holder.”

“Wanted Canadian citizen girl for Jat Sikh Grewal (27) boy having urban property worth Rs 15 crore. Sister settled Canada. Parents too have applied for Canadian visa. The boy will take 3 lakh dollars to settle in Canada.”

“Good looking bride wanted for Canadian Jat Sikh Toor 28/5-7 boy. Only those, who can arrange the marriage of his younger brother 22/5-8 in Canada, may contact.”

Another classified of the same nature reads: “For Melbourne Restaurant wanted Vaishnu boys for Australian citizen Chhemba Sikh girls.” The message is loud and clear. The other party is looking for a deal.

The most preferred destination is Canada. With dreams to settle abroad, parents look for NRI brides and grooms as spouses for their children.

“This might sound like an old story but we will give a new turn to it with a befitting reply to such greedy people,” says J.S. Walia, Global Punjab Foundation.

Commenting on the trend, P.S. Gill, Chairman, Ontario Sikh and Gurdwara Council, says, “Classified advertisements of same nature can be seen in Canadian Punjabi press too.

In many cases marriages are taking place with immediate cousins. We have started taking a stand against such marriages and started refusing solemnising them in gurdwaras,” he said.

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Will to move things
Charnjit Singh Gumtala

While in the USA and Canada, we read plenty about Amritsar, once known for its gardens, parks and open spaces, as a fast developing city but non-resident Indians, both young and the not-so-young, have a different perception of the Mecca of the Sikhs.

Every time I go abroad, I am rather upset when Sikh children there refuse to visit the city of Golden Temple; their arguments- total lack of sanitation and civic sense, besides packs of stray dogs and cattle on already encroached road space. The elderly, when overcome by nostalgia, rush home periodically although they too can’t help blaming the local government for ruining the very roots of Punjabi heritage and culture and for the mushrooming of illegal colonies and ghettos around the city.

It is hard to contest the view that Amritsar is an international spot (because of the Golden Temple). But then there is hardly anything ‘international’ here. No where in the civilised modern international world would you find such broken roads, rickety buses and three-wheelers belching out black and toxic exhaust with impunity least bothered about traffic laws or road rules. Where else would you witness with miraculous inaction, such long and unscheduled power cuts, as shopkeepers resort to the omniscient phut-phut of gensets and the noon-hour pollution?

The city is unique in many ways and demands special care and planning. The heritage site Ram Bagh, once the summer capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the last Sikh ruler of Punjab, can be given an international face by removing illegal occupations and better landscaping.

One fails to understand why the green spots like Skattri Bagh and others which have huge old ‘maulsaries’ can’t be reclaimed from beggars, gamblers and anti-social elements.

The food culture of Amritsar is hard to duplicate. That’s why Amritsaris come back at the earliest possible opportunity. Our political masters and the people at the helm of affairs, who have had a close look at European or American local government, should try to emulate some elements. I think it is not difficult. Perhaps it is time to wake up to the challenge of a global economy, besides a minimum level of orderliness and sanitation and streamlined traffic.

Rajasansi Airport, after its upgradation is making waves on the international aviation profile. After a lot of hiccups it has gained popularity and many airlines are thinking of rerouting their flights through the city. This will be a lifeline but vested interests are trying to sabotage it as they come out with unpractical and illegal plan of an alternate airport at Halwara.

This plan should be nipped in the bud because according to the Civil Aviation Act 1934, airports must be at least 150 miles apart in view of safety of operations.

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Warmth of Darbar Sahib
Tribune News Service

Four Oxford University students had visualised the Golden Temple nestling in tranquil surroundings .They were disappointed to see the holy place amidst congested and highly polluted area of the city. However, the plan to lay an elevated road to decongest the traffic was of little solace to them.

The students: Mr David Whiteside, Aiman Leung, Ms Annie Mcdermott and Ms Miranda Jones were here with students and teachers of Khalsa College for thee weeks to get a feel of life here.

Ms Annie Mcdermott said she had expressed her wish to visit the Golden Temple to Mr Inderjit Singh and Ms Ramanpreet Kaur Baath, two Sikh British graduates. And they accompanied her under the United Sikhs Oxford University Travel Air English Language Teaching Programme.

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Encroachments at Hukam Singh road
Neeraj Bagga

Residents of the Hukam Singh road are concerned over the pitiable condition of roads and footpaths, besides encroachments on public places by unscrupulous elements.

People have flouted civic rules with impunity, says Mr Brij Bedi, President, Citizen’s Forum, who is also a resident of the locality. Shopkeepers have encroached upon footpaths to display their wares while many residents had constructed houses in clear violations of construction bylaws.

Some have maintained lawns outside their houses, reducing the width of the road while others have constructed huge ramps outside by encroaching upon the road. The extensions did not allow rainwater to drain out. The recent spell of rain has turned innumerable pits on the road into puddles. Commuters and residents are forced to bear with the conditions.

Dr Harbhajan Singh Soch, former Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, who is a resident of Hukam Singh road, street No 5, said his pot-holed lane had turned into slush after the rains. The fifth street is used by people to go to Shivala Bagh Bhaiyan as it is a shorter route.

When contacted, Councilor of the ward, Mr Rajinder Bhalla, said suitable action would be initiated against the encroachers. He informed that estimates to lay a new road had already been passed and tenders would be floated shortly.

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Beopar mandal hails decision on octroi

The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal (PPBM) president, Mr Amrit Lal Jain, has welcomed the decision of the government to abolish the octroi in the state. He has asked traders to pass on the benefits to consumers.

Mr Jain said the Congress-led government had dragged its feet for almost four years and a half on the issue. The abolition would help in the growth of trade and industry in Punjab. There would be free movement of goods, saving time and fuel as goods carriers had to wait for hours at octroi posts. — TNS

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Contests, celebrations mark Teacher’s Day
Tribune News Service

At National Institute of Fashion Design girls wore their best danglers while the boys competed for tattoos.
At National Institute of Fashion Design girls wore their best danglers while the boys competed for tattoos. —A Tribune photograph

The birth anniversary of Dr Radhakrishnan, former President of India, was celebrated by the students of Dayanand Model School, Model Town. The students presented bouquets to their teachers. The head boy and head girl presented flowers to the Principal, Ms B. Manuja.

A contest for sending the best message for teachers was organised in Guru Nanak Dev University College, Basti Nau, on Tuesday. About 40 students participated as they sent heart-touching messages. The messages of Navjeet Kaur, MCA ninth semester, Satuti of MCA first semester, Ridima, MBA fifth semester, Kapil Saini, MCA first semester and Sahibdev of MCA third semester, were adjudged the best.

Release of the first issue of school newsletter, "News and Views", coincided with the Teachers' Day celebrations at Innocent Hearts School. Tanya Gulati, head girl, unfolded the significance of the life and principles of Dr Radhakrishnan.

A debate marked the Teachers Day celebrations in the Commerce Department of Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, on Tuesday. The topic of the debate was: “Are teachers still enlightening the life of the students?”

A cultural show was also organised and students presented gifts to the teachers.

A solo dance competition was organised at Bal Bharti International School. In the middle group, Bhupinder of Class VI got the first prize. In the junior group, Tarandeep of Class III was declared the best.

Teachers Day was celebrated at R.B. Arya Model School, Basti Danishmandan by students, who organised a cultural show. Ms Raman Gupta, Principal of the school, and staff was given best wishes by the students.

The day was celebrated at Police DAV Public School with much fanfare. Programme began with the singing of patriotic numbers. A modeling show was organised as the students showcased Indian dresses. Appreciation awards were given to Ms Anuja Sharma, Ms Sweety and Ms Chander Kanta.

A cultural show was held at CT Public School. A function was held in which the students read funny news items, danced, performed skits and bhangra.

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Years of teaching pay off
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Her untiring effort to revive an almost defunct school has been recognised. Headmistress of Government Secondary School, Ucha village, Ms Amarjit Kaur has been selected for the state-level Teachers’ Day Award to be conferred on September 7 at Gurdaspur.

Four and a half years ago when she was posted here, the school was in a mess. The villagers used the school grounds to tie their animals and migrant labourers had put up tents. There was no boundary wall. The school had just been upgraded from the middle level. There were five classrooms with another five in dilapidated condition. There was one toilet for boys, girls and the staff. The lone hand pump for drinking water was mostly dry.

Mobilising resources, she got a submersible pump for the school. Taps were fitted so that there were no long queues. Fencing was done around the school premises and villagers were convinced not to use the school land. She got five rooms declared unsafe by the Zila Parishad. These were demolished and eight new rooms were constructed. New toilets were also constructed with a grant from the Education Department. A boundary wall has been erected around the school.

The school won the award for the Best Eco Club along with a cash award of Rs 1,000 from the district administration last year. The school held environment awareness rallies. The students had also got involved in tree plantations, vermin-composting and medicinal garden projects.

The school ground was quite low, the rain water of the entire area accumulated there. The students used the situation for rainwater harvesting project. The students and staff also set up a natural habitat for birds. Excursions were arranged for students by the zealous headmistress.

During her 33 years of service, Ms Amarjit Kaur had been posted to a number of schools in the district as a science mistress, including Nehru Garden, Model Town, Mithapur and Gumtala, near Noormahal. But her favourite posting had been at Nehru Garden school, where she also had been a student.

She completed her B.Sc and B.Ed at 21 and was appointed at Government High School, Virk. The award includes a certificate, Rs 10,000 cash and a medal.

Her husband, Dr Paramjit Singh Thind, CMO, Dentistry, and her daughters would accompany her to Gurdaspur for the award ceremony. The delay of the function has been rather fortunate for me. “My younger daughter, an air hostess with Air India was to fly back on September 5 from the USA. Had the function been on that day, she would not have been able to attend it”, she smiled. 

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From Schools and Colleges
Yoga a stress buster, say doctors
Tribune News Service

An extension lecture on ‘Medical Ethics” was organised by the Department of Philosophy, Kamla Nehru College for Women, Phagwara. Dr Usha Gupta and Dr Anubha Ohri expressed their views on the occasion.

“Humanity is the main concern of a doctor,” said Dr Gupta. Dr Ohri highlighted the importance of yoga to deal with stressful life. Students of the college also were given advice on their problems. Earlier, the Principal, Mrs Kusum Verma, welcomed the doctors.

IT quiz

A quiz was organised at Mohan Lal Uppal DAV College, Phagwara, on the occasion of Teachers’ Day. Mrs Promila Uppal, Chairperson, appreciated the efforts made by the IT wing of the college.

On the occasion, five teams - Conquerors, Gladiators, Motivators, Adventurers and Achievers - participated in the quiz competition. Gladiators won the competition.

Fancy dress

A fancy dress-cum-modelling show was organised by the children of Magic Years Preparatory School at Hargobind Nagar, Phagwara on Tuesday. Mrs Neetu Anand, Principal, said it was teachers’ duty to tap potential.

Children in the age group of 2-3 years danced in different traditional dress. Mrs Suman Sardana gave away the prizes to participants.

Farewell

A farewell party was organised for the Station Superintendent, Phagwara, Mr R.K. Suman, at the Phagwara railway station on Tuesday. Mr Bhag Singh, former DPO, Ferozepore, and Mr Sohan Lal, former Station Superintendent, Ludhiana, lauded the services of Mr Suman and presented a memento. GRP, RPF personnel, railway staff of the station, members of the Rickshaw Union and all the porters at the station were present on the occasion.

Tree plantation

Syndicate Bank, Taraksheel Society and Dr BR Ambedkar Welfare Development Club jointly celebrated Van Mahotsav at the Government High School in Dhak Pandori village. Mr Kewal Ram, an NRI, gave Rs 21,000 for the development of the school.

Public speaking course

The Rotaract Club organised ‘Effective Public Speaking Course’ at Kamla Nehru College for Women, Phagwara, on Friday. Dr Neelam Sethi, Head, Department of Hindi, was honoured with the title ‘Rotaract Mother’.

Dr Sethi gave tips to the students on public speaking. She told the students about the importance of gestures, pause, emphasis and voice pitch required to be a good speaker.

Mrs Saroj Balram, Vice-Principal of the college, was the chief guest.

Farewell

Mrs Nirmala, a teacher of Government Primary School, was given a farewell party by the school staff on her retirement. She had served in the field of education for 26 years in different schools.

She distributed uniforms and stationery items to needy school students and presented a gas stove to cook mid-day meal for the students of the school. Mr Sanjiv Bugga, Senior Vice-President of the Phagwara Nagar Council, was the chief guest.

New unit

Lions Club Phagwara Royal organised a function for the newly formed unit of the club at a local resort in Phagwara on Friday. Mr R.S. Panesar, president of the club, welcomed Mr Satish Mahendroo, Governor, Lions District 321-D, and former Governor of the club, Mr Manmohan Singh.

Mr Jaswinderpal Singh, Vice-Governor of the club, was the special invitee to the function to administer the oath to the new team led by Mr Manjit Singh Kakkar.

Mr Mahendroo honoured all the project directors of the club. Eleven sewing machines were also presented to needy women at the function.

The Phagwara Nagar Council president, Mr Malkiat Singh Ragbotra, Mr Surender Mittal, member, District Consumer Court, Jalandhar, Mr Davinder Kultham, Director, Kultham group of companies, were also present on the occasion.

Seminar held

NITCON, Chandigarh, organised a seminar on ‘Entrepreneurship Awareness’ among the self-employed youth at Ramgarhia Polytechnic College, Phagwara, on Sunday. The Principal, Mr Vir Singh, presided over the seminar.

Mr Vijay Arora, Senior Consultant, NITCON, informed the students about the self-employment schemes and project reports.

Mr Charanjit Rai, Chairman, Khadi Board, informed the students about various self-employment schemes launched by the Union Government and the Government of Punjab.

Later, Prof Virender Kumar thanked all the dignitaries.

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Madaan set for CSIO course
Tribune News Service

Divyanshu Madaan, a former student of St Joseph Senior Secondary School, Jalandhar, has been selected for admission to the three-year Diploma in Instrument Technology from the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO), Chandigarh.

Divyanshu was among the 70 lucky students, out of thousands of candidates from across the region and the only one from the city, to clear the examination. Most candidates clear the test after completing Plus Two the city lad did it in the first attempt.

Divyanshu had preferred not to take admission in Plus One in March this year. “I studied for the entrance test in April and May. In June and July, I stayed in Chandigarh to join a coaching centre.

“I knew that I had attempted well. But there was some tension as the competition was very tough. Of the 70 total seats, there were only 52 seats for the general category.”

Divyanshu joined the classes in CSIO this week and set another goal for himself. “I have to get short listed for the advanced diploma course after three years.

The selection is made on the basis of performance in the first two years. Thirty five students would be selected, 20 for advanced diploma in die and mould making and 15 for advanced diploma in mechatronics and industrial automation,” he said.

Divyanshu’s father, Dr Rakesh Madaan, a private physician, too was excited at his son’s success. 

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Shortcut to humour
Tribune News Service

SMS has, no doubt, a popular way of communication. In fact, humour and jokes have had a new lease of life with the Short Service Message. It facilitates communication, but at times it proves to be a nuisance. Some ‘humour’ leaves a bad taste in mouth.

Undoubtedly, SMS has also brought the nation together. We stood for Jessica Lal and all forwarded messages expressing our rage against quota reservation. But sometimes it crosses the line and insensitively makes fun of others’ patience or negligence.

The Prince episode grabbed headlines in all forms of media. Now it has become the butt of jokes. “Do you want to make your future safe, want to be lakhpati or want to become famous…. then….start looking out for 60 ft bore!”

“Great Indian Offer – Find a ditch, dump your kid and get amazing media coverage, free education, millions in cash and be a big mega star, great India, great media, great Prince…Moral of the story: foolish Indian system.” These were just a few examples.

In other cases humour coupled with lewd remarks actually becomes unpleasant.

“Such messages are bad in taste and leave a negative impact. I just take these SMS with a pinch of salt and delete them. People should think before sending messages,” says Hariharan Mitra, final year student of Computer Science, Lovely Institute, Jalandhar.

For Amit Joshi, his classmate, it wasn’t too bad in case of Prince. According to him they are just trying to make the media realise that it didn’t require that much hype. “I know it gets abominable but then I don’t forward messages blindly, I prefer deleting such messages rather than forwarding them to make fun of such a sensitive issue,” he shrugs.

“I really don’t mind sending or receiving such messages. It’s all done for fun and nothing else,” says Ritesh, a teenager. 

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