Tribune News Service
Amritsar, October 22
For the first time, a delegation of Resident Foreign Heads of Missions from nearly 85 countries paid obeisance at the Golden Temple dedicated to 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
Originally, 91 envoys, sans the participation of Pakistan and China, were part of this trip. The visit was initiated by Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) head Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and led by Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri. ICCR director general Akhilesh Mishra also accompanied them.
The high profile delegation reached holy city through a chartered flight and was received by SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal, MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla, Cabinet minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, DC Shiv Dular Singh and Police Commissioner Sukhchain Singh Gill.
Puri said this programme with envoys from almost whole world to the Golden Temple together was a befitting mark of respect to Sri Guru Nanak Dev who spread the eternal universal message of peace and oneness of humanity.
“A history of the sort was in the making today with ambassadors of so many countries together paid obeisance at the Sanctum Sanctorum of this holiest Sikh Shrine. I am thankful to ICCR head who made it possible at a short notice of three-four days. This programme was dedicated to 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev to give an opportunity to dignitaries about Sikh religion and culture,” he said.
Puri, when asked about absence of representatives of Pakistan and China, said, “Invitation was extended to diplomats of various countries, but some could not make it, might be, due to their prior commitments,” he said.
Pertaining to the Centre’s programmes chalked out for Guru Nanak Dev’s parkash purb, he told that the cabinet had approved various programmes recommended by a dedicated committee under leadership of Union minister Rajnath Singh on November 22, 2018 meeting. This includes series of programmes, which included the opening of corridor leading to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib from Dera Baba Nanak on November 9.
When questioned about Pakistan’s insistence of imposing entry fee of $20 for Indian pilgrims, he said though this subject was out of his jurisdiction, yet as a Sikh devotee, he believed, that there should be no entry fee to visit Sikh holy shrines where every task is executed with ‘sewa’ (volunteer service). “But, it was for the Pakistan to decide upon,” he said.
Nonetheless, the visiting dignitaries partook of ‘langar’ at Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee Hall while sitting on the floor with ‘sangat’ (congregation) and ‘pangat’ (in a same row) concept founded by Guru Nanak Dev.
SGPC honoured the visitors by presenting them with Golden Temple model and ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) and literature concerning philosophy and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev’s universal brotherhood and harmony.
Earlier on arrival at Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee Airport, they were welcomed with traditional Punjabi style on bhangra beats and gidha. As the delegation reached Dharam Singh Market, they covered the distance to Golden Temple on foot through heritage street.
Children from International Fateh Academy mesmerised them with their Gatka (Sikh traditional martial art) skills. The delegation also watched the 50-minute show at interpretation centre at the basement of Golden Temple plaza, depicting the history of Golden Temple, Sikh principles, culture and Guru Granth Sahib ‘maryada’ (tenets).
SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal told that all were overwhelmed with the spirituality and solace of the Shrine. “We had organised the programme in such a manner that they should all be well apprised about Sikh principles, religion and tenets. They were also thrilled sitting and eating together in the same row in Guru-ka-langar,” he said.
Later in the evening, DC Shiv Dular Singh apprised the visitors about Amritsar, Punjab and Invest Punjab programme, before they returned in the evening.
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