Amritsar, October 7The ongoing kar seva is unlikely to restore the two-and-a-half-century old ivory mosaic work, ‘gach’, a sort of stone or gypsum priceless murals, naqqashi and paintings, depicting mythological scenes which was destroyed in January 1986 when radical Sikhs pulled down the magnificent structure of Akal Takht following the ‘sarbat khalsa’.
The priceless naqqashi which fell prey to militant diktat 16 years ago was a specimen of excellence attained by Sikh craftsmen. While the craftsmen had dedicated their lives to complete the exquisite art work in the interiors of Akal Takht, the same is none being done in a hurried manner.
Mr Surinder Singh and Mr Satpal Danish — both sons of the late G.S. Sohan Singh, famous fresco artist who had worked for 32 years in Golden Temple — alleged that the art work at Akal Takht was not being done as per the traditional design and technique. They claimed that the present paint and art work being done through kar seva would not last long.
Mr Danish claimed that he was the first person who had objected to the demolition of Akal Takht in 1986, but nobody heeded his advice then. “However, I kept frame-by-frame frescoes and gach work which included paintings of Hindu gods with me,” he said, adding that more than 20 per cent of the craft work of Akal Takht and 60 per cent work of the Golden Temple was done by his grandfather, Bhai Gian Singh, who had devoted his life to this work.
Fresco paintings were introduced by Bhai Kehar Singh under the patronage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Today, few artists pursue this ‘Sikh school of art’.
However, Baba Amrik Singh who has been supervising the kar seva being done by Dera Baba Jagtar Singh at the behest of the SGPC said the life of the new technique of naqqashi was more than the traditional one. He claimed that while the old structure of Akal Takht had been demolished and the frescoes and rich art work had disappeared after 1986, it was not practicable to use the ‘traditional technique’ to adorn the interior walls with old frescoes which had disappeared forever. He said the design of Akal Takht had also been changed when the building was reconstructed after 1986.
The historical well, which was got sunk by Guru Hargobind had been included in the spacious building during the earlier kar seva carried out by Damdami Taksal.
Replying to a question about the enamel paint, Baba Amrik Singh said only water colours were being used which did not fade for five years.
Baba Amrik Singh claimed that the fresco work was being done by Mr Harbhajan Singh who had more than 40 years of experience in this field. He said he had done 50 per cent work of retouching the frescoes of the Golden Temple.
The state convener of INTACH, Dr Sukhdev Singh, asked the babas who are carrying out ‘kar seva’ to use old materials and styles, in consonance with what is in the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple.
Experts and knowledgeable persons must be consulted on the issue. He said old blocks of the designs preserved in the archives of the SGPC or in private possession could be of great use. The use of synthetic and bright colours did not reflect the ideology of Sikhism or belong to the Sikh school of art, he said.