Practice of honouring with siropa at Golden Temple must be stopped

badal golden temple

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, June 4: The Sikh doctrine recognizes none as more equal than others and that concept of egalitarianism is symbolized by the Golden Temple. This perhaps is the only shrine in the world where one has to go down the stairs and there is meaning to it-one has to leave behind ego. The concept of honouring those considered to be more equal than others at the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple, apparently, is violation of this basic principle of Sikh theology. However, it is a matter of debate and this debate should be initiated at the academic level, unlike in case of Dasam Granth that is mainly confined to those who are incapable of going deeper.

The denial of sirpoa by priest Balbir Singh to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday has triggered fresh controversy about this practice. The basic issue is why Badal and his Deputy Chief Minister son and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal be honoured with siropa at the sanctum sanctorum every time they go to pay obeisance at the shrine. They should have themselves counseled the SGPC officials against it. After all, they control the affairs of this so called elected Parliament of the Sikhs.

Balbir Singh had earlier denied siropa to Sukhbir.

His argument in favour of denial of siropa is the failure of the Badal government to nab the culprits responsible for the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari village in Faridkot district on June 1, 2015. This was followed by series of incidents of sacrilege. Two persons were killed when the police opened fire on the protesters agitating against Bargari sacrilege but the police officials involved have not even been named. Ammunition issued is accounted for.

Badal was scheduled to visit the Golden Temple early but got delayed. The Ardasia on duty at that time was Gurcharan Singh. As he entered the complex, Balbir Singh had replaced Gurcharan Singh. Balbir Singh refused to honour Badal despite intervention by the SGPC officials.

Within hours, both Balbir Singh and Gurcharan Singh were handed over transfer orders. Balbir Singh has refused to join at Machhiwara. He has been serving at the Golden Temple all his life.

Badal seemed to be irritated when questioned by newsmen about it saying it was a non-issue but SGPC Avtar Singh Makkar  told TV channels that it was  a serious issue.

The denial of siropa is just an indication of the wrath of the people against Badals and those in high places in religio-political domain of the Sikhs losing legitimacy. Majority of the Sikh organisation now don’t recognize Giani Gurbachan singh as chief of Akal Takht, the supreme institution symbolising trans-border sovereignty of the Sikhs. Five Panj Piaras attached to Akal Takht were earlier sacked due to turmoil in the religio-political matrix. The situation now seems to be worse than the period when the gurdwara liberation movement was launched in 1920.

There are several interesting aspects of offering of siropa. Then Akal Takht Sarbarah Aroor Singh had houred Colonel Reginald Dyer, the killer of Jallianwala Bagh. He had ordered firing on people gathered in Jallianwala Bagh for a conference in which hundreds of people were killed. The firing was stopped after exhausting all the ammunition with the troops.

Some years back, siropa was handed over to anyone  having offered Rs 100. This practice was stopped by then SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra. However, under public pressure, it had to be re-started. There is now a change as one can have this siropa from another room by paying certain amount.

Sikhism was created as a religion of the common man but that value system is observed more in violation and hence this state of the Sikh religio-political institutions. Sikh organisations are confined mainly to anti-Badalism or petty politics and are not in a capacity to take on bigger issues as has been witnessed during the last more  than 20 years. The flip-flop on Nanakshahi calendar is a classic example as it was Badal who released it and  later withdrawn under his family pressure.

The unstoppable degeneration of Sikh institutions is a challenge to the Sikh community and this is the most serious issue rather than engaging in petty politics.


Jagtar Singh


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