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High Priests under fire for preferring Europe, USA

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High priests under fire for preferring Europe, USA

Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 3

The Sikh high priests, including Jathedars of five Takhts, have come under attack from the Sikh Panth for failing to visit any Sikh gurdwara in Pakistan in the last more than two-and-a-half decades while they had undertaken a number of ‘religious journeys’ to the USA, UK, Vatican City or other European countries where no historical gurdwara exists.

Interestingly, the Sikh Panth has been demanding ‘open access’ to Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, and other Sikh shrines in Pakistan in their daily ‘ardas’ (prayer to the Almighty). While Pakistan’s gurdwaras are a few kilometres away from Amritsar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti had failed to pay any visit to the historical shrines in Pakistan after becoming Jathedar of Akal Takht. It is learnt that no Jathedar or head granthi of Harmander Sahib had ever tried to visit Pakistan’s Sikh shrines in the last two-and-a-half decades.

Giani Iqbal Singh, Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh and Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar of Patna Sahib, Damdama Sahib and Kesgarh Sahib, yesterday faced an uncomfortable situation when Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, President, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, said in their presence that it was unfortunate that the Sikh clergy had been avoiding to visit Pakistan’s historical Sikh shrines. He said it was intriguing that the Sikh clergy preferred to visit developed countries instead.

Senior SGPC member Manjit Singh Calcutta, who had visited Pakistan many times, said that it was the moral and religious duty of the Jathedars to see the latest condition of the historical Sikh shrines themselves and ensure implementation of Sikh maryada there. He said Sikhs in Pakistan had been requesting the Sikh clergy to visit gurdwaras but the high priests had been ignoring their demand.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, an executive member of the SGPC, however, said that Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) should first extend proper invitation to the Sikh high priests. She said the PSGPC had been discriminating against the SGPC-led Jatha members. Under such situation, it may be difficult for the senior religious leaders of the Sikh panth to visit Pakistan.

She, however, said that the Sikh high priests could visit Pakistan’s gurdwaras as ‘humble Sikhs’.

When contacted, Jathedar Vedanti said that he had visited gurdwaras in Pakistan many times before his elevation as Jathedar Akal Takht. Jathedar Vedanti who had visited many developed countries in his capacity as Jathedar, Akal Takht, told The Tribune that he might visit Pakistan in the near future.

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Does anybody know what these "high priests" accomplish by coming over seas? What is the point really? They don't seem to be able to solve any problems we have in panth. They don't even seem to be able to agree on anything other than to travel overseas. I am really skeptical of these leaders. What do you guys think, do you think they are helping the panth or just another layer in getting nothing done.

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