A day of treat at Golden Temple
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
Like always, the Golden Temple would be a treat to watch on Divali for its detailed illumination and a spectacular show of fireworks. The multi-coloured lights bursting in the sky cast fascinating reflections in the pond.

Gurbachan Singh, information officer, Golden Temple, said the fireworks are got made to order and a committee is constituted every year to oversee the arrangements after prior permission from the district administration.

He said fireworks are lighted at the four entrances of the Golden Temple complex and there is a competition of sorts among them. “The in-charge of each corner usually has a say in the kind of fireworks they want to go in for, anticipating the show from the other sides,” he said.

Divali is celebrated as it was on this day that Guru Hargobind reached Amritsar, after his release from Gwalior fort, during the reign of Jahangir. To celebrate his return, people illuminated their houses and the Golden Temple and it was made a tradition to recall this pleasant memory every year.

The day begins early for devotees, who throng the Golden Temple to pay obeisance, making offerings of different kinds. “Karah Prasad” is also prepared and sold to the pilgrims by the management.

A large number of devotees gather in the “parikarma” of the Golden Temple and people climb even the adjoining buildings to catch a glimpse of the fireworks thrown in the air from four different points of the Golden Temple complex. Candles and small earthen lamps fed with pure ghee are floated in the holy tank.

The event is organised by Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) and qualified doctors render free medical service to 
the pilgrims.

Amritsar has a brisk sale during Divali days in woolen cloth and cattle, in sweetmeats and brass utensils, and in candles and crackers. A big cattle fair is also held outside the city which lasts for 12 days. The municipal corporation, Amritsar earns a big amount every year for the sale fee on animals.

Traditionally, religious congregations are also held at Manji Sahib Baba Atal for a period of three days on Divali. Poets and singers participate in the celebrations even as recitation of Granth Sahib is done at Darbar Sahib, Akal Takhat and other gurudwaras.



On their toes even during celebrations
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
Divali is one festival when even the busiest find time to spend with family but for some the call of duty is so tough that they need to be on the job even as the city bursts crackers and exchanges gifts.

Doctors, firemen and the police have to be extra cautious to make sure that the general public has a safe Divali and the three departments have issued instructions asking its staff to work overtime on November 8, 9 and 10.

Says additional regional fire officer Trilochan Singh, “What to talk of taking an off, we are actually working overtime, that too 24 hours on these three days. On usual days, a 20-member team of firemen works is deployed at the five fire stations in the city but for Divali, the entire staff of 60 firemen has been asked to be on duty without a break for three days.”

“It may be celebration time for others but for us it is service time. We have to be on our toes to rush with our fire tenders if fire breaks out anywhere in the city. That’s the way it has always been,” he says.

Similarly, doctors at the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital have been asked to be available on the three days to cater to any eventuality. Dr Jagdish Gargi, principal, Government Medical College, says, “I have issued a circular in this regard to the specialist, including two orthopedics. They have been alerted in wake of the festival as there is always a possibility of injuries, especially of the ear and eye, due to lighting of fire crackers during the celebrations. Many cases of hearing loss due to exposure to high-intensity sound and blindness due to splinters from fire crackers come to the hospital every year, which demand immediate medical treatment,” he says.

“The emergency staff, in any case, would be on duty in the hospital to provide medical services to patients while the rest of the city has a rocking time outside with their families,” he says.

Requesting anonymity, a senior police official said though his family insists every year that he should take an off on Divali, professional compulsions do not allow that. “I make up by spending some extra time with them soon after the festival so that they know I’m equally keen on enjoying their company,” he says.

“It is definitely a testing time but we are training to deal with such occasions when our professional sincerity is put to test,” he says.



Synthetic Khoya Scare
City registers low sale of sweets
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
There is a considerable decrease in the sale of sweets as the people of the holy city prefer dry fruits in view of the duplicate khoya scare among them.Barring a few reputed shops like Bansal’s, Novelty and other shops which are known for their quality and hygiene, the sale of sweets in other lesser known sweet shops have gone down.

After the health authorities launched a major drive in the city, by taking samples of the khoya of various sweet shops located in various parts of the city, the shopkeepers were even refraining from purchasing khoya from outside the city. It is pertinent to mention here that the district health authorities had launched a drive against the sweet shops and had seized khoya and taken samples from various shops of the city for testing in its laboratories.

Neeraj of Novelty sweets, situated on the posh Lawrence road, claimed that they were making sweets with the khoya made by them. He said they prefer to charge Rs 5 or 10 from customers to provide them a quality product and that the customers have faith on them so were ready to spend more. He said the sale of sweets at their shop was more this time as compared to the previous year.

However, Satish Kumar of Kanhaya Sweets in Chowk Phullanwala said earlier he was preparing one or two items made from khoya but this time keeping in view the scare among the public he had not manufactured those items this time. He however, confirmed that there was a decrease in the sale of sweets due to the scare and many shopkeepers had to bear heavy losses this time. He rued that there was no reputed laboratory in the city from where they could get the khoya tested. He urged the government to set up a laboratory to test the khoya and other materials so that sweet shops could provide quality products to the consumers. Civil surgeon Lehmber Singh while talking to the Tribune said most of the samples taken from various shops have been found to be up to the mark and added that the material of one out of two major seizures made, was found to be of good quality which would be returned to the owners. He said the other material taken would be destroyed and action would be taken against the defaulters.

Anil Sharma ,a resident of the Green Avenue, said they were not taking any chances and were purchasing dry fruits to be distributed among the friends and relatives.



90 pc crackers violate norms: CPCB study
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, November 8
Divali can be a celebration but one can land in trouble while celebrating the festival of light. Reason -- the firecrackers, which are one of the main causes of environment pollution and health hazards.

The noise pollution caused by firecrackers could prove fatal for hearing ability of a person. Even the Supreme Court had banned the bursting of crackers after the stipulated period while according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 90 per cent of firecrackers violate the norms laid regarding noise pollution.

As per a national level study conducted by National Physical Laboratory of CPCB every year about two per cent of people develop hearing loss due to these firecrackers and majority of them are children who are most prone to induce hearing loss as their defence mechanism has not been fully developed, says Dr Dinesh Kumar Sharma, associate professor, Department of ENT, Government Medical College here.

Interestingly, the firecrackers used during the festival create noise far exceeding the permitted decibel limits reaching to 130 decibel much more than the ambient noise standards of 120 decibels described as discomfort level in medical terms.

The dangerous effect of noise started from sound level of 85 decibel which could cause permanent hearing loss and sometime could also result in high blood pressure, heart attack, sleeplessness, upset stomach etc. Sudden noise up to 115 decibel could cause rupture of ear drum leading to permanent deafness, says Dr Sharma. If it’s not enough, let’s some more stats there is 25 per cent increase in number of asthma patients post Divali while air pollution increases six to 10 times during this festival.

Let’s see the intensity of firecrackers being sold in the market. The Laxmi cracker has sound level of 136 decibel and that too while standing 15 feet away from the bursting site and similarly another cracker atom bomb has a level of 134 decibel when recorded from 30 feet away, which quite more than the permitted level ie 120 decibel. While triple shot and parrot bomb have sound level of 105 decibel and 107 decibel, respectively.

It is pertinent to mention here that the apex court had banned the bursting of crackers after 10 pm while directing centre and states to put effective check on any form of noise pollution caused by the crackers as it was not only public nuisance but also posed real danger to human health with a potential to cause hearing loss besides pointing out that no one should be permitted to explode sound emitting firecrackers between 10 pm to 6 am, which is hardly taken care off by state governments or district authorities. It had also directed the department of explosives to ensure that the manufacturers of crackers clearly spell out the details on the packaging box about the chemical contents and the nature of product and asked to take the strict action on failure to do so.

Dr Sharma said there is an urgent need to spread awareness and start an anti-cracker drive from all the departments concerned, non government organisations and educational institutes like schools and colleges and intellectuals.



A girder bridge is their only lifeline
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
There is only one girder bridge on the Hudiara drain connecting Hoshiar Nagar, a remote border village, with the Amritsar-Attari road and if this one gets damaged the people of the area would have to cover another 15 km to reach their destinations.

The people of the area use this bridge for reaching their destination - Amritsar or Attari - where their only mode of transport is through tractor-trailers and they have to get down before crossing the bridge. They only board the trolley once it reaches the other side of the drain.

Jathedar Gurdev Singh, a resident of the village, said they had earlier urged the district administration to construct a bridge over the drain for the smooth flow of the traffic and minister for animal husbandry and sports Gulzar Singh Ranike had got the requisite documents in this regard. But the Army authorities were not allowing any construction on the drain as it fell under the defence area, he rued.

He said in the absence of any bridge, the people were not ready to send their wards for higher education to secondary schools or colleges in Attari or Amritsar as it took more time in the absence of any transport facilities in the area. He said the people of the area had also to suffer while shifting the patients to hospitals located in Amritsar in case of emergency.

He urged the district administration for taking up the matter with the Army authorities for constructing a bridge over the drain immediately so that the people of the area do not have to suffer any more.

Another resident Swarn Singh said the state government should complete the road on both sides of the bridge as it was dangerous to cross the bridge during the rainy season. The area got muddy not only around the bridge but also over it and one could slip and fall into the drain which was already polluted with industrial waste and sewerage of various areas of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation.



Festival of dance at Junior Study School
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
Students of Junior Study School, cantonment area, organised a “festival of dance” to celebrate completion of 31 years of the school.

Pinki Uppal, US-based educationist, who is working with special children (slow learners), was the chief guest. School principal Rita Rajbir Singh said the school was planning to set up a separate wing for special children and sought help from the chief guest, who used to teach at the school before migrating to the USA.

Vice-principal Rita Kapoor, who has been associated with the school for the past 25 years, was honoured.

Students in the age group of three to six years cast a spell on the audience with their performance on the song “Rang de Basanti”. Bhangra and kathak were the other highlights.



Service club celebrates Divali

Amritsar, November 8
A Divali function was organised in the Service Club Amritsar recently in which competitions of Fancy dress, singing and dancing were held for children. Some star performers of the city, Rupali and Vipul, selected in Star Voice of India and Ghanav, who stood first in Guru Nanak Dev University youth festival mesmerised the audience with their melodious voices.

In the 4-8 age group fancy dress competition Sayyam Pal Singh Ranike, Sarthak Tandon and Master Vijayath Seth stood first, second and third, respectively, while Vijiisha Seth, Tania and Master Harsahib Batra stood first, second and third respectively in 9-13 age group category.

In singing, Sumeet Arora, Karanpreet Singh and Manveen stood first, second and third respectively in the 9-13 age group while Suraksha and Shruti stood first, Prarthana Khurana and Sukhmani were adjudged second and third respectively in the age group of of 14-18 years.Manriya, Agam Partap Singh and Ritakshi Seth secured first, second and third position respectively in 4-8 age group dancing competition while Ravi Inder Singh, Vimal Preet stood first and Shivam Khanna and Keshav Soi secured second and third position, respectively in the age group of 9-13 years. — TNS



Amritsar Light and Sound Association splits
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
Nearly 150 members of the Amritsar Light and Sound Association (ALSA) severed their ties with the association due to the dictatorial attitude of its office-bearers and formed the New Light and Sound Association recently.

The following have been elected office-bearers of the new association: chairman - Dharam Pal Kalra; vice-chairman - Avtar Singh; president - Daleep Bhanot; general secretary - Rupinder Singh; head cashier - H.S. Arora; joint cashier - K.P. Saund; organising secretaries - Kamal and Jaswant Singh; propaganda secretaries - Ajit Singh and Jasbir Singh; and patron - Ujjal Singh Sethi.

The president of the new association, Daleep Bhanot, said they were forced to form a new association as the ALSA had failed to safeguard the interests of its members. He alleged that the office-bearers of the ALSA were ignoring them on various important issues. He said their new association would safeguard the interests of each and every member, besides ensuring their participation in various important meetings.

The new association organised a function to celebrate Divali, which was sponsored by Sethi Radios.



‘Boom’ time for markets
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
For those planning to have a loud Divali, the wholesale cracker markets in Anngarh and Jahajgarh are the two places to shop at. The making of fireworks begins about three months before Divali in this area located close to Gate Hakiman and railway station, Bhagtanwala and even other house in the locality is turned in the virtual cracker factory.

Heavy-duty fireworks like ‘aatishbazi’ which burst into 12 different colours in air and “allu” bombs which have the capacity to blow up a tin container are the all-time best sellers in the market.

“People from different parts of the city start pouring in weeks before Divali to buy crackers in bulk for their families and relatives, even if they have to borrow cars from friends to carry the huge quantity,” says Satish Kumar, an agent of Chote Raja Fireworks Company.

“Brands like “Murga chaap” are a hit with youngsters for their high-intensity and sure-shot excitement. Some crackers go phut without even making a whisper and we make sure that our products are stuffed with enough material,” he adds.



Oral health check-up camp held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 8
An oral health check-up camp was held for truckers by a team of doctors at the local Khanna Paper Mills here. It was in continuation of the series of camps being organised at different points where truck drivers usually stop, said a spokesman.

The main points where the oral health check-up camps were held included Bhagtanwala grain market, grain market at Ferozepore and various roadside dhabas and highways.

The spokesman said truck drivers and their attendants were educated about the benefits of good oral health and the ill-effects of narcotic substances like tobacco, cigarette, gutka, etc.
Oral health kits were also distributed. A follow-up camp would be organised on November 16, the spokesman said. The doctors who were present at the camp included Dr Simpreet Sandhu, Dr Jagpreet Singh Sandhu and Dr Vattan.



CD Release
Late Bhai Gopal Singh’s devotion comes alive
Tribune New Service

Amritsar, November 8
A rare collection of shabad kirtan by late Bhai Gopal Singh titled ‘Bhai Gopal Singh Ji-Live at Sri Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar’ was released here recently by head granthi Giani Gurbachan Singh at the Golden Temple.

The 2-CD album by Saregama India Ltd has selections from live recordings of shabad kirtan by late Gopal Singh at Harmandir Sahib, while he was serving there from July 1, 1972 till June 30, 1973. Very few know that his assignment at Golden Temple during this period was actually a ‘seva-bheta’ (deed of appreciation, dedicated to the lord’s service) of Sardar Meher Singh Chadha of Iran, a noble dedication routed through Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC).

Mehr Singh’s son Jagjit Singh Chadha recorded these renditions on spool and tape, capturing the sacred moments as a memoir of their family’s devotion and now for the benefit of patrons of Gurmat Sangeet, a few select shabads have been chosen specially for this double album.

The album’s lead shabad - title, ‘Dithe Sabe Thawan Nahi Tudh Jeha (1362) is the album’s core message - that of finding love, solace and spiritual happiness in the city of Amritsar.

Speaking on the occasion, Mukul Kansal, general manager of Saregama India Limited, said they were honoured to participate in this endeavor of bringing rare and perhaps one of the earlier live recordings of Gurbani kirtan from Harmandir Sahib.

Chadha said the royalty proceeds from the sale of this album would be give to SGPC, Central Khalsa Yateemkhana and Bibi Surinder kaur, wife of late Bhai Gopal Singh.



Maharashtra minister visits Golden Temple
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
Narender Singh Bakshi, president, Indian Oil Dealers Association, Mumbai, visited the holy city to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple after being appointed as a minister in the Maharashtra government.

Talking to The Tribune here, Bakshi said he was overwhelmed by the opportunity provided to him by the Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to serve the people of the state. He said before joining the ministry he decided to pay obeisance at Harmandar Sahib.

Bakshi said he had joined the Congress under the leadership of the late Indira Gandhi in 1975. He said earlier he was appointed as general secretary of the youth wing of state unit of the party in 1990, besides being member of the protocol committee, attended AICC members’ meeting in Mumbai and also at Surajkund Adhivesan.

He said he had also actively participated in various programmes organised by the party. He said he was member of the Indo-Arab Society and represented India in United Arab Emirates in 1995, besides being member of the Maharashtra Handicap Society and member, police committee, Malad. He said he had also received National Unity Award twice from party president Sonia Gandhi in 94-95 and 95-96.



Stray dog menace

The whole city of Amritsar is facing the problem of stray dogs. The number of street dogs has assumed alarming proportion and the menace is increasing day by day. Despite highlighting the problem in the media, the administration has taken no steps to curb the menace. If the problem persists, the day is not far when their number would be greater than the population of the holy city.

Sanjay Chawla, A-371, Ranjit Avenue, Amritsar Baldev Singh, Jalandhar

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