Baisakhi: It’s time for feast and festivities
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
Mukk gayi kankan di raakhi, Jatta ayi Baisakhi!

Baisakhi, which is a derivative of Vaishakha, has a special attraction in Amritsar where devotees from all over the world throng Golden Temple to take dip in the Holy Sarover.

The farmers of India and Pakistan harvesting wheat on both sides of the border (East and West Punjabs) is a rare feast to the eyes.

After harvesting the winter crop, the farmers of the northern states of Punjab and Haryana celebrate the beginning of another year. The day coincides with the solar equinox on the 13th of April.

The social, cultural and educational institutes celebrate this festival with great zeal.

There is lively dancing and loud joyous singing as the traditional folk dances of Punjab, called the Gidda and Bhangra, are performed. Baisakhi is auspicious day for the Sikhs community that coincide with the anniversary of the creation of the Khalsa Pantha.

The border city of Amritsar is a major centre for agricultural implements which are used in harvesting of the wheat crop.

The most commonly used agricultural implement is sickle - a curved, hand-held agricultural tool typically used for harvesting grain crops before the advent of modern harvesting machinery.

It consists of a curved blade with a short, one-hand handle attached.

The inside of the curve is sharp, so that the user can swing the blade against the base of the crop, catching it in the curve and slicing it at the same time.

The traditional implements like hand hoe or khurpa, sickle, spade, baguri, hand-wheel hoe , tasla, tangli, yoke, plough and harrow which have disappeared in other parts of the state are still used in certain parts of the border belt. This is common in both East and West Punjabs.

Interestingly, migrant labour take the responsibility of harvesting across the border fencing.

However, border farmers face lot of difficulties to carry out the harvesting of the golden crop due to the border hassles. They are given limited time to harvest the crop by Border Security Force.

What is worse, they (the border farmers), having big chunk of land across the fencing are seen with suspicious eyes by the BSF Jawans. The main celebration however, takes place in the gurdwara at Anandpur Sahib, where the order was formed.

Devotees also sip the nectar and vow to work for the Panth. Thousands of devotees partake in the 'Amrit ceremony' in various Sikh shrines of Anandpur Sahib, Damdami Sahib, Akal Takht to mark the occasion.



Apathy takes sheen off Mall Rd
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 13
The Mall Road, which literally means a shady way meant for walking, has become one of the most polluted roads of the city.

Once a paradise for morning walkers, who used to walk, exercise and liked to breath in the fresh air of huge shady trees, the place is not fit for a stroll even. Thanks to the sand and earth lying gathered on the sides of the roads.

The mounds of sands could be seen scattered all over the road due to construction of new shopping malls and other commercial buildings allegedly in blatant violation of rules.

The chopping of trees has further aggravated the problems which disillusions morning walkers.

The authorities concerned, including the Municipal Corporation and Forest Department, have miserably failed to provide clean environment and to take timely action in preventing cutting of trees.

“It has virtually become meaningless to have a walk on mall road as construction of shopping malls has resulted in pollution as well as a lot of traffic and chaos.

The blind cutting of trees has also marred the beauty and had already taken a huge toll on the natural surroundings of this road” says a daily morning walker.

He alleged that the shopping complex owners have chopped off many trees to enhance the beauty of their complex. About six shopping malls have come on the half-a-km stretch of the mall road while construction of more malls was reportedly in pipeline.

The shopping-complex owners seemingly don’t bother about lifting of construction material from the roads.

Another resident says unlike in foreign countries, the authorities here in India have turned a blind eye and simply don’t bother about the problems of the residents. In foreign countries, the authorities don’t allow anybody to keep the material outside on road. If anybody violates the rules they had to pay hefty fines.

It is pertinent to mention here that built in 1880 by Britishers after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Mall Road once had a beautiful landscape with a large number of shady fruits-laden trees including silver oaks, golden shower, acacia, maulsary, peepal, neem, and jamun among others.

The Forest Department is responsible for maintaining the green cover, but it is reportedly a “silent spectator” to all these violations. 



In Dire Straits
City’s green lungs on life support
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, April 13
The green belt that was developed with an idea to give a beautiful and hygienic impression holy city to the tourists is in shambles owing to the lackadaisical attitude of the district administration in maintaining the same.

The belt that runs for a stretch of more than two kilometers on both sides of the GT road was developed to give a good first impression to those arriving in the city.

The stretch is completely devastated and encroached upon by various shopkeepers which use the same as a dumping ground for building material and garbage.

The motor vehicle repair shops that have come up on the stretch are using it for parking the vehicles coming repairing.

The Municipal Corporation had developed the green cover in various parts of city especially on the sides of the main G T Road after spending huge amounts.

However now it appears that its maintenance is the last thing on their minds. Wild plants have grown in place of the trees that have been chopped off.

A large portion of the boundary wall to safeguard this belt on either side of road has broken for dumping building material.

The environmentalists have raised their concern over poor conditions and upkeep of green belts.

They said the corporation, which claims itself as environment friendly, gives no regard to provide clean and green atmosphere. They also criticized the corporation for installing huge hoardings in these green belts.

Charanjit Singh Gumtala, a senior leader of Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM), a non-government organisation for the development of the city said that the bureaucrats, leaders including mayor were not eco friendly.

“In fact they are opponents of greenery,” he added. Gumtala said the manch had taken up the matter of proper maintenance of green belts with corporation but in vain.

Brij Bedi, social worker and president Citizens’ Forum, an NGO, said the corporation was befooling residents of Amritsar.



My City
Revamp needed
Arun Kapur

The city of Golden Temple is abode of spiritual bliss and solace. But the city with a glorious past needs to revamp its civil system and the district administration needs to wake up from its slumber. Not only tourists but even pilgrims thronging Amritsar to seek benediction have to face hardships due to lack of proper civic amenities.

There are three ways to reach Amritsar - by road, rail, and air. If the visitor comes by road, loads of dust and pot-holes greet him. After entering city limits, a visitor soon realises that traffic signals just don’t matter. If he stops at a traffic signal, some fast moving vehicle would surely hit him from behind and if he crosses the red light, he is likely to be hit from the side. It is a virtual free for all at all traffic crossings in the city.

The roads are so narrow that cars, trucks, autos, cycles, horse carts are all in one or more lines with blaring pressure horns. It is heartening to find an occasional cop trying valiantly to control the traffic mess near Ram Talai and Putlighar.

If you come by bus, you will be surprised that there is one high tech bus stand and at least three parallel private bus stands where buses are parked in the middle of G.T. Road. Those coming to the holy city by train finds that the railway station premises are hardly beautiful and the entrance and exit points have been completely encroached upon. The Railway link road has been encroached from both sides and only 30 per cent road is available for commuters.

If you chose to come by air, the pot-holed Ajnala road greets you and the lasting impression that almost every visitor carries with them is that Amritsar is an unkempt and uncared place.

It is reported that a few enterprising Punjabi NRIs have opted for a space trip being organised by Virgin spacelinks. They would be better advised to visit Amritsar for a taste of Moon walk. Most of the encroachments are by ‘high and mighty’ and the corporation does little.

Those going shopping have to face a similar ordeal. The most prestigious location in the walled city, Hall Bazar, is permanently out of bounds for visitors as there are traffic snarls at numerous points with parking all along the roads. Lawrence Road is inundated by one foot deep water even if it rains for 15 minutes. If it does not rain surely the sewer will go berserk every second day with water gushing out menacingly outside Nehru place.

The entire walled city area is dotted with garbage heaps strewn all over the place. The new shopping complexes dotting Mall Road and Lawrence Road have one thing in common _ absence of parking lots.

I suggest that ‘Watch’ groups should be formed in every mohalla, colony and locality to take up the common cause with civic authorities, If it is our city, we have to find time. Otherwise there is no point in cribbing. We get what we deserve. Let us get our act together and show that we care for our city. We do not want it to wither but flourish and bloom. God bless my city.

(The writer is Past District Governor of Rotary International)



‘Udaan’ marks a new beginning
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
Senior Associate Editor of The Tribune, A.J.Philip, released a compilation of essays titled ‘Udaan’, at Citizens Forum Vidya Mandir, a school for children of drug addicts of Maqboolpura locality.

The essays in the book talks about the menace of drug addiction. In a way the booklet is an autobiographical story of those children whose fathers have ruined their lives by getting hooked on to drugs.

The tale of woes penned by young students leaves one with a heavy heart. Sandeep Kaur, a Class VIII student of the school, said in her essay, “We all schoolchildren want to tell society that the menace of drugs should be stopped so that there are no more widows who lost their husbands to addiction.”

Similarly, Mandeep Kaur, a student of Class VII, says, “I am an orphan and stay with my grandparents. We have pledged to stay away from drugs.”

Philip appreciated the efforts of the school in imparting free education to children of drug addicts in Maqboolpura. He interacted with the students and also gave suggestions to the members of the Citizens Forum for further developing the school.

Master Ajit Singh, who had started the school in 1999 with 20 students elaborated on the activities carried out in the school and an attempt to ensure that the children realise the deadly effects of drugs and remain away from it. 



Baisakhi fervour: KSS jatha reaches Pak
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
A 42 member jatha of Kesh Sambhal Sanstha (KSS), led by S.J.S. Pall, retired chief commissioner income tax crossed to Pakistan for the first time to celebrate 'Baisakhi' festival there.

The Baisakhi is celebrated at Gurdwara Panja Sahib with great fervour. Many jathas from India, United Kingdom, Canada and the USA visit Sikh shrines in Pakistan on the occasion of Baisakhi every year.

The KS Jatha would be aiming to propagate tenets of the Sikh Gurus, Hindu and Muslim saints in Pakistan during pilgrimage. The KSS also provides training in the art of turban tying and kirtan.

The Kesh Sambhal Sanstha, was established as a trust in July 1997 at Amritsar by Pall, an IRS Officer (retd). One of its main objects is to translation Sikh scriptures in various languages. The KSS activists would also interact with the Sikh leaders of Pakistan so that it could help them (the Pakistani Sikhs) in meeting their religious requirement.

The Kes Sambhal Prachar Sanstha also aims to inculcate cultural and spiritual values, besides providing value-based education to young children. 



PSB opens new branch
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
The Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB) should accelerate the credit off take to meet the corporate sector’s requirements. This was said by information and public relation minister Bikram Singh Majithia, while inaugurating PSB’s branch at Ranjit Avenue.



Soaked in hues of patriotism
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Schoolchildren paint to pay tributes to martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Remembering heroes: Schoolchildren paint to pay tributes to martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh massacre. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, April 13
Schoolchildren were given lessons in patriotism even as hundreds of visitors converged on the Jallianwala Bagh on April 13 to pay tributes to those who laid down their lives for the freedom struggle.

It was Panchrang, an artist group from Amritsar, which brought together students from various local schools with an aim to remind them of the sacrifices made at the historic garden, which is a landmark in the history of India’s freedom struggle.

Mala Chawla, one of the five founding members of Panchrang, said all of them were school teachers, who came together at Jallianwala Bagh on Baisakhi Day five years back and decided to form the group to promote upcoming artistes.

“The previous year, we came here with 150 students from five schools we were associated with. With time, the participation of schoolchildren in the programme has increased. Our annual schedule begins from April 13 with organisation of a function for schoolchildren, where they make paintings as a mark of tribute to the martyrs.

“There is no competition and the entire programme is a way of reminding the young generation of the sacrifices made for our country’s independence,” she said.

A physically challenged girl, Shweta, who had hurt herself after falling from a rooftop, also took part in the painting programme.”Even though she has lost proper grip of her right hand, she painted the Tricolour to express her love for the country,” said Chawla.

Harshdeep, a Class VI student, said he had painted a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi with the Tricolour in the background. “It makes sense to recall the national heroes who sacrificed their lives so that we could lead a free life. The tradition should continue and such programmes should be organised at Jallianwala Bagh throughout the year,’ he said.

Bhinder Singh Nanda, another founding member, who is also the vice-president of Indian Academy of Fine Arts, said the objective of Panchrang was to bring together upcoming artists of Punjab and help them hold exhibitions by seeking sponsorships.

“Many new members from Hoshiarpur, Chandigarh and Gurdaspur have joined us and all of us are committed to promotion of upcoming talent,” said Ramit Vasudev from Hoshiarpur.

“Panchrang also organised an exhibition of paintings in collaboration with the Indian Academy of Arts, Amritsar, at the Art Gallery, which features paintings by artists from the region,”said Nanda.

After they had given final touches to their paintings, students of SGRD Khalsa Senior Secondary School raised slogans of ‘Vande Matram’ and ‘Inqlab Zindabad’ to pay tributes to the martyrs.



They come here to salute the spirit of freedom
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

AIATF chief MS Bitta along with his men paying homage to the martyrs in Amritsar.
AIATF chief MS Bitta along with his men paying homage to the martyrs in Amritsar on Friday. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, April 13
Eighty eight-year-old Chanchal Singh can hardly walk but he made it a point to come down to Jallianwala Bagh from his Bakipur village adjoining Tarn Taran on Baisakhi day. For him, it’s a day to remember his father, who was arrested by the British Army after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

“On that fateful day, my father had come here to attend the historic public meeting which was targeted by General Dyer and hundreds of Indians were killed. He was put behind bars for violating the law and was sentenced to six months in jail,” he said.

“I myself took part in freedom struggle and remained in jail from 1941 to 42. Every year, I get an invitation to take part in programmes organised at Jallianwala Bagh,” said Chanchal Singh, taking out an invitation card from his pocket, sent to him in 1974, by the then Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, Sukhbir Singh, for a programme to pay tributes to Udham Singh. “There was a strange enthusiasm in people of that time. The freedom fighters knew they were in the right and were not scared of even giving up their lives to make sure that the next generation doesn’t have to live as slaves of a foreign power,” he said.

“Things have changed in these years. My children could not complete their studies and thus not entitled to get government jobs. I come here every year to relive the past and pay tributes to those who made the supreme sacrifice for the country,” he said. Lost among the crowd of visitors, Kamal Poddar, was another person who had a special reason to be at the Jallianwala Bagh on Baisakhi day. “When General Dyer gave orders to shower bullets on innocent Indians, a bullet hit my grandfather’s right leg and it had to be amputated. He was a man of strong will and lived on for 21 years after the injury. His picture was on display at the main hall in the complex till a few years back. My grandfather, Lakshmi Chand, was a resident of Amritsar and people still remember him,” he said.



Medical camp: FCI staffers examined
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
A medical camp was organised for the employees of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) at the multi specialty Escorts Hearts and Super Specialty Institute here.

As many as 125 employees availed of the services for heart and blood pressure check-up, and also those relating to abdomen, chest and asthma, besides diabetes, orthopaedics and joints.

K.K. Verma, area manager, FCI, while inaugurating the camp said the superspeciality hospital was empanelled with the FCI for the benefit of its employees.

He said the employees could get the treatment from the specialist doctors of the hospital and their medical bills would be reimbursed as per the rules of the corporation.

Dr M.L. Chawla, executive director, said such camps helped detecting the disease at an early stage and patients suffering from any disease could be provided proper treatment at an early stage so that the problem did not aggravate and the patients did not have to suffer much.

The FCI employees also availed of the facilities of free consultation, free ECG, ECHO, cardiography and blood sugar tests.



Spring Dale strolls down memory lane
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, April 13
Punjab, the land of five rivers, an integrated cultural history is a treasure trove for all.

However, it’s the misfortune of the people of this land of gurus and historical embodiments, who seem to have forgotten the glorious values existing in those times. In 1801 on the auspicious day of 12th April Baisakhi, Maharaja Ranjit Singh was coroneted with great pomp and show and it was on a Baisakhi day when our honourable Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, handed over the esteemed GobindGarh fort to the Punjabis. It is pertinent to note that Spring Dale Senior School too completes its silver jubilee on the 12th of this year and begins its 26th year in the field of education. To celebrate and foster an interaction the play incorporates the visions that are all slowly fading away.

On the eve of its annual festival, Spring Dale Senior School provided a picturesque backdrop, imbibing the very essence of Punjab, during the rule of the Sher-e-Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Navjot Singh Sidhu, MP Amritsar and an eminent cricketer of his times was the chief guest for the evening. Dr H.R. Sagar, director-cum-principal of Sai Baba Bhag Singh college, the awardee of the Bharat Jyoti award; and Dr Aneesh Dua a PHD holder working with the ministry of environment and forests Govt of India, also working for philanthropic projects with Art of Living, were the other distinguished personalities who attended the show.

Starting from the ruins of the Gobindgarh fortress down the memory lane, the students of Springdale’s took the audience into an introspective and enthralling journey into the times of this legendary king. The thumping grooves of the horses ballad, jubilant beating of the dhol, the energetic Gatka performance, soothing diya dance mesmerised the audience.

The thought provoking and insightful play along with its poignant humour, soothing songs, enthralling juggling and salsa performances touched the hearts of all present and ignited a spark of retrospection in them.

The integration of qawali, ghori, gidda and Kashmiri dance accompanied with heart rendering tales taught us the importance of discipline, justice and the strong bond of sovereignty and friendship that needs to be revived once again in this glorious land. Manveen Sandhu, principal of the school said the play posed a question to the society at large as to why our present generation has not been able to imbibe any of the values of the past into their present to make a better tomorrow?



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