Shiva temple given facelift
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Punjab’s border villages like Ajnala, Attari, Kasel, Bhakna Kalan , Serai Imanat Khan and Khalra are dotted with crumbling monuments of pre –Partition styles.

The ancient well, with special chemical properties that once cured Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in the border village of Kasel has also been given a new look.
The ancient well, with special chemical properties that once cured Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in the border village of Kasel has also been given a new look.

Enveloped in mythology, the Shiva temple, believed to be visited by Mata Kaushalya, mother of Lord Rama, in Kasel village, near Pakistan border, is in ruins.

The local Mahants claim that Kasel was native village of maternal grandfather of Lord Rama.

The Kasel was named after Mata Kaushalya, though its ancient name was Kaushalyapuri.

It is said Maharaja Ranjit Singh on a visit doled out huge money and land to the temple named after Mata Kaushalya.

A marble plate on the boundary wall of Shiva Temple in Kasel village reads that 112 men from the border village had gone to First World War. Of these, 12 were killed.
A marble plate on the boundary wall of Shiva Temple in Kasel village reads that 112 men from the border village had gone to First World War. Of these, 12 were killed. 
Photos: Rajiv Sharma

The Mahants ,who use the major part of the temple for personal use ,have carried out renovations.

The temple tank made of Nanakshahi bricks has not been de-silted in years . The village children, unaware about the water-borne diseases, play in the filthy waters during the rainy season.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh used to get water on camelbacks from the well of the Shiv temple, which could cure water-borne diseases.

The record of the temple reads, “This Mafi (exemption) was granted for the maintenance of Shivala at Mauja Dhand Kasel vide letter number 520, April 13, 1875 by State of Punjab (registerial 93 Mafi, Tehsil Tarn Taran)”.

The order regarding exemption was issued by R. Calark, the then Commissioner, Amritsar, in 1901. Later, Deputy Commissioner, in his order issued on April 1, 1941, also acknowledged the historicity of the temple.

Mahant Baldev Giri claimed that the Shiv Temple had one of the four ancient Shivlings in the country.

He claimed that devotees from far-flung areas used to visit the temple before the village was affected by militancy.

He said during excavation the Mahants could not find the end of the Shivling though they dug up the place up to 30 metres.

Mr Om Parkash, another Mahant, alleges that neither the state government nor the Archaeological Survey of India had spent anything to preserve the shrine.

In olden days, pilgrims from far flung areas used to walk for months to reach the temple. But today one can drive up to the door of the temple.

The Mahants claim that the temple like four Shiv Dhams is a sacred destination for devotees.



Sarai for pilgrims
P.K. Jaiswar

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), in a significant decision, has decided to construct a sarai for pilgrims visiting from all over the country to pay their obeisance at the Golden Temple here.

According to details available here, Punjab Chief Minister has given his approval and provided one-acre prime land in the vicinity of the Hall Bazaar on long-lease with negligible rent to the management. The sarai would be constructed on the old Sabzi Mandi land allotted to them just opposite the Hall Bazaar and would have about three-dozen rooms with five-star facilities. It would also have a “Dharam Prachar Centre”, besides offices for spreading awareness against drug abuse among the youth, apostasy and female foeticide. Mr Harvinder Singh Sarna, president of the committee, while revealing this said that there was no political motive behind the construction of the sarai as they were fulfilling their social responsibility. He said the committee and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) would provide the funds for the construction of the sarai. He said the DSGMC, SAD (Delhi) and the whole Sikh community was grateful to Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for providing land and minimum lease amount. He said the Sikh community in New Delhi had expressed their gratitude to the Punjab government for this gesture. 



Ramgarhia and Ahluwalia gates
to get a new lease of life

P.K. Jaiswar

Meeting the long-pending demand of Sikh masses, the foundation stones of two historical gates — Darwaja Ramgarhia and Darwaja Ahluwalia — named after two great Sikh warriors, Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, would now be laid on November 12 and November 19, respectively.

Illustrations of Amritsar’s Ramgarhia Gate (top) and Ahluwalia Gate.
Illustrations of Amritsar’s Ramgarhia Gate (top) and Ahluwalia Gate.

The foundation stone of Darwaja Ramgarhia would be laid by Mr Harjinder Singh Thekedar, MLA and chairman, Horticulture and Forest Department, while that of Darwaja Ahluwalia would be laid by Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, MLA and chairman, Amritsar Improvement Trust. The two gates would be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 15 lakh each. The local Municipal Corporation had given its green signal for the construction of the gates by passing a unanimous resolution in this regard on January 17, 2003.

The two gates were believed to have been demolished after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The rich heritage was vandalised when the Sikh leadership was totally demoralised after the annexation of Punjab by the British following the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Though the British administration had tried to re-construct some of the historical gates, most of the sites were named after English administrators.

A map of the Municipal Committee, Amritsar, published before the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh depicts 12 historical gates, including Darwaza Ramgarhia and Darwaza Ahluwalia. On the basis of the clues found in the two old maps of Amritsar Corporation (1849 and 1947), Mr Onkar Singh Sandhu, patron of the Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia Federation, and his team presented to the Mayor the proof that the gates were in good condition before Partition. Moreover, history books point out that the Chattiwind and the Ghee Mandi gates were named after Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, respectively.

The two associations — Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia Federation and Sultan-ul-Quam Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Memorial Society — had joined hands for the construction of these two gates, which used to protect the city from invaders during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Mr Onkar Singh Sandhu, patron of the Ramgarhia federation, said that thanks to the research and persistent efforts of the federation, the names of Chatiwind Gate and Gheo Mandi Gate had been changed to their original and historical names — Ramgarhia Gate and Ahluwalia Gate — as per the unanimous decision of the Municipal Corporation. He said that Mr Sunil Datti, Mayor, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, former minister and Akali leader, had also consented to participate in the event.

Mr Sandhu urged the Sikh masses to participate in the function. 



My City
Monumental neglect 
Madan Lal Dhingra’s statue in bad shape

The city is proud of its religious, political, social and cultural heritage. The historical monument of Jallianwala Bagh stands witness to the contribution of the city to the freedom struggle of the undivided India.

The unforgotten hero of the freedom movement, Madan Lal Dhingra, also belonged to this holy city. He was hanged on August 17, 1909, at the tender age of 22. Dhingra belonged to a respectable family. Dr Sahib Ditta Mal was his father, while one of his brothers was a barrister. His family had migrated from Sahiwal to Amritsar in 1850. He was brought up in an aristocratic atmosphere. He acquired his basic qualification from Amritsar and went to England at the instance of his family to pursue higher education in engineering. There, he came in contact with Shyamji Krishna Verma and Veer Savarkar, the two freedom stalwarts.

Vinayak Savarkar, it is said, had given him the first lesson of freedom struggle. Together they prepared a ‘hit-list’ of the enemies of their struggle. Sir Lord Curzon Wylie was one of them as he was an important functionary, a political aid-de-camp to Lord Morley and was responsible for enacting anti-India policies. The curly-haired Dhingra shot dead Mr Wylie while the latter was attending a function at Jahangir Hall.

“Thank you, my Lord. I am glad to have the honour of dying for my countrymen…” was Dhingra’s abrupt response to the award of punishment to him for killing Sir Curzon Wylie.

Sadly, the only memorial constructed in the memory of this hero is his life-size statue in a park situated on the main GT Road. The area around Shaheed Madal Lal Dhingra Park is in bad shape. The park is situated near the International Bus Terminal and adjacent to the Dhingra Housing Complex. Two stones have been laid in front of the statue. One stone reads: “Shaheed Madal Lal Dhingra, born on February 18, 1887, the fearless freedom fighter, who was hanged for shooting Sir Curzon Wylie in London (England) on Ist July, 1909. This brave son of India happily kissed the gallows and sacrificed his life at the altar of freedom.”

But no one cares to visit this historic place. There is no easy access to this monument from the GT Road as the passage to this monument has been encroached upon. The green belt developed by the Municipal Corporation in front of this park has not been maintained properly. There are no proper lights around the park.

The vast land adjacent to this park is lying vacant. The land is being illegally used for loading, unloading sand-laden trucks and trolleys. The district administration has been urged time and again to prepare a master-plan to develop this entire area as a national monument, but to no avail.

On a positive note, however, recently at the instance of the Shaheed Madan Lal Dhingra Housing Welfare Society, the Municipal Corporation constructed a pavement in the park. On August 17 this year, the society chose the evening time to garland and pay tributes to the martyr.

— Sukhvinder S. Narula



Pagri Sambhal Jatta
Anuradha Shukla

Pagri Sambhal Jatta, the line inspired the peasant community with zeal to fight for the country when Lala Lajpat Rai exhorted the farmers to stand up for their rights, dignity and honour. Pagri or the turban, once commonly worn headgear by members of all communities and faiths, has now been relegated to special occasions like a wedding.

Milkha Singh

Capt Amarinder Singh

Pargat Singh

Pammi Bai

Malkeet Singh

The young find the turban cumbersome and are fast giving it up. As the nation fights for the right of Sikhs especially to wear a turban in foreign countries like France, attempts to get the Sikh youth to take to tying turban are on, in one way or the other, in the country also.

This Gurpurb we celebrate attempts, like the one by Punjabi folk singer Pammi Bai. Saluting the tradition of tying a turban, he has shot famous turbaned celebrities on video. Leaving out the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Chief of Army Staff, Gen J.J. Singh, the video features celebrities like flying Sikh Milkha Singh and the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, among others.

Paggan vichon Pagg Patiala Shahi ni, karda sifat jihdi sara jagg ni, bochvin ne pagg sardar bunnde, shonkin bunnde teddi pagg ni goes the song. Well, who wears it which way, you can make out from Pammi Bai’s video on the song that will feature Secretary-General, Indian Olympic Association, Randhir Singh, Olympian Milkha Singh, Punjabi pop singer Malkeet Singh, former cricketer and MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, former Minorities Commission Chairman Tarlochan Singh, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Director, Sports, Punjab, Pargat Singh, Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai among others. The video will also feature poet Surjit Pattar, classic Punjabi folk singer Mohammed Sadeek, and Baba Farid. “Baba Farid and Bulle Shah are the torch-bearers of our culture and always wore a turban. They will also be a part of the video”, says Pammi Bai.

“My song written by Dev Tarikhiyanwala is a salute to the tradition of turban”, says he. “It is an attempt to highlight the tradition of wearing a turban in our culture. The audio portion is complete and the video has also been made on singers Malkeet Singh and Sukhjinder Shinda, says Pammi Bai.

The video will present the glory of the turban and I am delighted with the way everyone I approached readily said yes except the Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff because of protocol reasons, says he. “If my attempt can stir young minds, I will consider my efforts rewarded”, says the Punjabi folk singer.



On the turban trail

Gurpreet, Gaganpreet, Jaspreet and Inder Mohan Singh thought of a unique way to propagate their faith. Preaching apart, the young boys got together more than two years ago to start a school to teach youngsters how to wear a turban. The popularity of the school has grown so much that they now have students, aged between 10 to even 40 years, who come from far-off places.

Besides holding pagri-tying competitions, these youngsters teach others how to win these competitions, too. They expound on the turban tradition, which stands for honour.

Skills like tying a lar or giving pagg de peche require mastery and these experts at tying the turban have tips ready for the enthusiasts. Their aim is to do seva for the faith and they do not charge anything for the course. Under their guidance, the simple turban turns out to be a style statement of sorts as the turban is tied in more than four styles!

“Patiala Shahi, Ludhiana style, Amritsari Pagg, Tikkhi Pagg, Bhangra Pagg and the Gol Pagg, or the round turban, are the various styles out of which the Patiala and Ludhiana styles are the most popular ones”, says Jaspreet Kler.

If you don’t know the difference, the “Patiala Shahi, like the one tied by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, has lar or layers of the folded cloth of the turban seen on both sides, while the Ludhiana style has six or seven layers or lar to be seen on one side while the other side is kept plain. The Ludhiana style is tilted on one side,” he explains. The Amritsar style is tied on the jooda itself and has six lars, to be precise. Bhangra turban is readymade, but it is round with the edge lars starched to stand up.

—A. S.



Dr. Narpinder Singh gets award 
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Dr. Narpinder Singh, Professor and Coordinator of Centre for Advance Research in Food Sciences of Guru Nanak Dev University ,has been selected by the Association of Food Scientists and Technologist (AFST), India, for the Laljee Godhoo Smarak Nidhi Award in recognition of his contribution in the field of food science and technology.

This national level award would be conferred on Dr. Narpinder Singh on the occasion of the 18th Indian Convention of Food Scientists and Technologists (ICFOST-2006) to be held on November 16 at Hyderabad.

The AFST (India) is one of the largest professional and educational organizations, with more than 2500 food scientists and technologists, across the globe. The Association recognizes talent and excellence in the profession of Food Science and Technology by conferring this award on one scientist every year.

Earlier, Dr. Singh was also honoured with the Pran Vohra Award by the Indian Science Congress Association and an appreciation certificate by the Punjab State Council and Technology. The Indian National Science Academy also conferred INSA Medal for Young Scientiston him in recognition of his research contribution. He also worked on a Commonwealth Scholarship as Visiting Scientist during 1995-1996 in the Institute of Food Research, UK.

He was elected Fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Recently, he returned from the USA after working as Visiting Professor on the Cochran Fellowship of United States Department of Agriculture in Grain Science and Industry, Kansas State University.

Prof. Singh has also worked as Visiting Professor on a Japanese Society for Promotion of Sciences(JSPS) Fellowship in the Department of Food and Human Health Sciences, Osaka City University, Japan. He is doing research on the structural-functional relationship of biopolymers present in different plant materials.

He has over 125 research publications to his credit.He is on the editorial board of two international and reviewer of 18 journals. He remained the Head of Department of Food Science and Technology, GNDU ,for two terms and was instrumental in bringing a number of projects from different funding agencies such as the ICAR, DST, INSA, AICTE and the Food Processing Ministry. 



Award for DAV School
Ashok Sethi

DAV International School here has bagged the British Council National School Award. It received this award at a special function held in Mumbai recently.

The principal, Ms Anjana Gupta, who personally received this award, said the school had presented the comprehensive dossier highlighting multi-faceted activities of the school. She said the dossier had received excellent review at the ceremony.

Talking about the dossier, she said the dossier had comprehensive details about various countries. She said that under this programme, the students had visited London and Singapore, and participated in various cultural events. The students had showcased their rich folk culture and presented Punjabi dances, including gidda and bhangra, and folk songs, much to the delight of their counterparts in those countries. The students also took part in the paper-presentation competition, which won them many laurels at the exchange programmes.



Central govt to invest Rs 78 crore in horticulture 
P.K. Jaiswar

The Central government would invest Rs 78 crore under the National Horticulture Mission to promote horticulture and provide various facilities to horticulture farms in the country.

Stating this, Mr G.S. Cheema, Finance Development Commissioner, during a visit to Government Horticulture Farms and Nursery at Atari here, said the government would establish a marketing complex with modern facilities on 100 acres of land in Amritsar at the cost of Rs 75 crore for the marketing of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

He said the state government had already given its nod to establish a modern perishable cargo complex at the cost of Rs 25 crore at Rajasansi International Airport for export of vegetables, fruits and vegetables to foreign countries.

Mr Cheema said that under the National Horticulture Mission, the government would double the existing land under Horticulture, besides increasing the production of crops, vegetables, floriculture and mushrooms in the country.

Mr Cheema was here to participate in exhibition and seminar on various kinds of lemons. The programme was organised by the Horticulture Department here. He said that in this mission the department would provide new techniques and training in marketing and processing after harvesting of crops, establishing new gardens and nurseries, besides providing subsidies to aspirants interested in horticulture.

Ironically, he said, only one or two per cent of land came under horticulture farms in Punjab. Punjab’s farmers could increase their income by adopting horticulture, he added.

Meanwhile, Dr Kulbir Singh, Director, Horticulture Department, while encouraging the farmers to adopt horticulture for diversification, said that the government provided 75 per cent and 50 per cent of subsidies for horticulture of kinnow and improving the conditions of already-existing gardens. He said the department had targeted to install 250 vermicompost units. 



Going green 
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

The rising cost of vegetables and other commodities has forced people to find new methods for growing vegetables. Mr Jasbir Singh Atwal, a resident of Kangra Colony, has developed a novel method of growing vegetables on the terrace of his four-storey house to cope with the skyrocketing prices of vegetables.

He does not make use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. He uses manure or organic fertilizers. This not only keeps the vegetables non-toxic, but also makes them taste better than the ones purchased from market.

An employee of the Punjab Police, Mr Atwal, while talking to Amritsar Plus said that the idea struck his mind when his family became concerned over the rising prices of vegetables. He said that as he did not have space in and around his house, he decided to grow the vegetables in flowerpots and placed them on the terrace of his house.

He said his wife Kuldeep Kaur and their children also helped him in his new endeavour to grow vegetables in pots. He said even his 95-year-old father Amar Singh encouraged and guided him in this direction. He said that as they belonged to the rural background, he had the desire to do some part-time farming and also to apprise his children about the basics of farming.

Talking about his plans of expanding the area under the vegetable cultivation, he said that though he had little space, he would try to grow more vegetables.

Mr Atwal mostly grows green vegetables like bitter gourd, spinach, saag and coriander, and lemon. He said his family had been relishing the fresh and healthy food for the last four months. He added that even the guests coming to his house were astonished to see his endeavour. 



Mall culture
Tribune News Service

Heritage Group, one of the leading Real Estate Developers and Colonisers in Amritsar, plans to build a big commercial mall with multiplexes, food courts, shops, offices, restaurants, according to a press release issued here. Another upcoming project of the group is “Heritage Forest”, a government-approved premium township spread over 80 acres of land. The press release also stated that there were plans for a premium township on 150 acres of land at the Airport Road.



‘Jeewan Rishma’

The Kes Sambhal Prachar Sanstha, Amritsar, an NGO to create awareness about the rich cultural and spiritual values, besides providing education to children at a very young age, has released a quarterly trilingual magazine “Jeewan Rishma” here. Divided into three parts, there are six, four and eight chapters in English, Hindi and Punjabi languages, respectively. —TNS



Infosys envoy
P. K Jaiswar

Amritsar — Lavanya Behl, a B.Com student of local DAV College has been selected as Campus Ambassador for I T giant Infosys. He is one of the two candidates selected from Punjab.

The college Principal , Dr V K Sharma, said that Lavanya attended the Campus Ambassador programme in Banglore and Mysore along with other 126 students selected from major cities of the country. He said the programme included a week-long tough corporate training on various campuses of the company.

Dr Sharma said that Lavanya’s ambassadorial profile involved promoting the BPO industry.

He would work as a single point of contact of Infosys. He would be giving presentations to fellow students on BPO as a long -term career option at various colleges of the city.

He would also assist in recruitment programmes of the company. 



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