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The World Comes To The Guru

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nanded hosts a million Sikhs; Devotion takes over all emotions
THREE HUNDRED YEARS ago, the Master knew the world will have little choice but to beat the door to this little, sleepy town. Such is the power of the True Word. Three hundred years ago, the tenth Sikh Master, Sahib Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, bestowed Guruship upon the Granth. Faith is now moving mountains. A million have converged already upon this town, all decked up in honour of the spirit of religion. And the reigning slogan is Guru Maneyo Granth.
The Ganga flowed calmly near Patna where Guru Gobind Singh Ji had taken birth. This week many are finding their way to where the great wave found confluence with the swirling waters of Godavari.
And hundreds of thousands on Monday lined along the banks of the river, ferrying gallons of water, adding it to the sacred waters of the ancient 'bauli' inside the Takht Abchal Nagar Huzur Sahib Complex complex. In such a way is the Takht Sahib being readied for the greatest of the occasions, the tercentenary of the Guruship of Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
'Takht Ishnaan', an annual feature performed once a year on the Diwali eve, attracts impressive crowds, but on Monday, the number of pilgrims crossed all old records. They did not leave an inch of space along the 1.5 km walk from the banks of Godavari near the historic Gurdwara Nagina Ghat to the main gurdwara complex of Sachkhand sahib. Conservative estimates put the number of devout this morning at around 60,000 plus, including thousands coming from abroad to especially take part in this ceremony.
Shastars of the Guru were also bathed in the water brought so lovingly by the devout.
Jo Bole So Nihal shouts reverberated through the atmosphere, jathas of sangat kept rolling in every minute, and no one dare call the town sleepy anymore. Langars are on round the clock, and a strange convivialness is in the air. No Sikh is passing by the other without hailing out the Gur Fateh and the world is watching with wide eyes the spirit that the Guru imbued the followers with three centuries ago. One does wish that there were more stalls with books, that some one taken upon the sewa of distributing some literature and the SGPC had really showed itself to be the central body of the Sikhs instead of remaining at the periphery of most celebrations. But what was admirable was the absence of unnecessary and avoidable controversy over supremacy of the Granth.
The inviting gold-gilded domes were being given a bath and karsewa volunteers precariously hung from the ropes in their efforts to carry out the task with diligence and total reverence and respect. The silver doors of the structure were brought down and cleaned with milk while the golden doors of the sanctum sanctorum were washed from the outside. The area behind the golden doors was accessible only to the Jathedar of the Takht Hazoor sahib, Giani Kulwant Singh, who dressed in bright saffron and yellow robes, scrubbed the place clean.
Outside, there was a unique opportunity for the devouts to have a close look at the 3,000 odd 'shastar' (weapons), including the bows and arrows and wooden, hand crafted guns, belonging to Guru Gobind Singh, and which were brought out on Monday morning before the cleaning ceremony of the Takht. All the while, a huge 'nagara' (Drum) beat inside the gurdwara, in tune with the enthusiasm of those taking part in the seva.
One’s heart goes out to the shradhha displayed by the devout. Old men and women were carefully carrying along the water trickling down the doors, walls and windows after washing and safely carried it away. And there were those who were rushing to seal the bottles because they planned to send it abroad to their relatives, a wish that underlines the immigrant’s pain that he carries despite all success in foreign lands.

The tradition of Takhat Snan and deepmala was started about 200 years back by the locals. They carried water from the Godavari in pitchers to bathe the holy place and the arms.
Baba Hardayal Singh, known as Ghaghariya Singh, starts the process by drawing the first pitcher from the river. Another tradition of performing the Aarti besides the Ardas on the river banks after the first pitcher is drawn was instituted four years back by Clean Godavari activists led by Ravinder Singh Modi, a local journalist.
Tuesday night saw the gurdwara precincts all decorated with lights as the rest of the India celebrated Diwali. It was here that the Guru gave the source of permanent light to the community, and every single diya being lit up was a gesture of thanks to the Master.
India’s PM Manmohan Singh will be paying obeisance at the bhog on October 30.
As a city, Nanded residents can hardly recognize it any more. Overflowing with devouts, it has seen so much development that the residents are grateful to the Sikh community.
It was an interesting sight to see the milk was sprayed from a fire-tender on the gurdwara as part of the activity.
A large number of saints who have come from the US, the UK, Germany, Canada and various parts of the country also converged on the banks of the Godavri. The Maharashtra government and the management of Takht Hazur Sahib had made special security arrangements and divers of the Army were also deployed.