Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Anglo-Sikh Wars Museum: stolen pistols yet to be traced

The four battles, which the Sikhs fought with the East India Company army at Ferozeshah, Moodkee, Sobraon and Chellianwala in quick succession, were known for the exemplary bravery shown by the Sikhs.

The valour shown by Sikh soldiers of the Khalsa army under odd, inhospitable and unfavourable circumstances during these battles got them huge appreciation and recognition from the then officers of the British army.

However, what has disappointed people across Punjab is the fact that the authorities have failed to trace two pistols, which were used during an Anglo-Sikh war and were stolen from the local museum, a few years ago.

The Punjab government established a museum, in connection with the relics of the Anglo-Sikh war, on the bank of Rajasthan Feeder and Sirhind Feeder canals. A large number of hand-held weapons, including swords, fire arms, muskets and other war gear, have been preserved in the museum for posterity.

A criminal case was registered against Pritam Singh, Balwinder Singh, residents of Faridkot and Moga districts respectively in Ghal Khurd police station on June 4, 2006, in connection with the theft of two pistols, on the written complaint of the then director, cultural affairs, Punjab.

A challan in connection with this case was presented in a Ferozepur court on December 20, 2007, against Pritam, Balwinder, Bikkar Singh, Balbir Singh and Jagsir Singh by police authorities.

Though these accused were still being tried in the court of law, the authorities could not recover the pistols, used in the Anglo-Sikh war.

No senior functionary of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Punjab, could be contacted for their comments despite repeated efforts, SSP, Ferozepur, Kaustab Sharma, said he would check the status of the case first.

A senior official of the Punjab Government while pleading anonymity said the functionaries of the Department of Cultural Affairs had shown little interest in the case and hence recovery of relics could not be made.

Chander Parkash, Tribune News Service, Ferozeshah, March 29

Monday, 28 March 2011

Historical Baradari serves as a dumping ground

Sher Singh’s Baradari, a place of historical significance at Kot Khawaja Saeed, is in ruins.

The Solid Waste Management (SWM) Department has constructed a waste enclosure there after demolishing a corner of the Baradari, in violation of laws. According to the World Heritage Rules and Antiquity Act 1975, no one can construct anything on such premises within 200 yards of that building.

There are 12 arches in its three walls due to which it is called Baradari. A wall around it was demolished earlier by the Nawaz Sharif Hospital, Kot Khawja Saeed and SWM department. It is named after Maharaja Sher Singh who was born in 1805 in Gujranwala to a Sikh family of Sukerchakia Misldars. At that time, much of the Punjab was ruled by Sikhs under a confederate Sarbat Khalsa system and Afghans, who had divided the territory among factions known as Misls.

Sher Singh’s father Ranjit Singh was the first Maharaja of Punjab. He succeeded his father at the young age of 12.

After several campaigns, his rivals accepted him as their leader, and he united the Sikh factions into one large country. Sher Singh was known as a person who did good works for the betterment of his people. He ruled for two and a half years only but is remembered for improving the existing system of governance.

Sher Singh and his young son were brutally murdered by the Sardaran-e-Sindha Walia. After his death, Rani Randhawi Singh and her family constructed their Samadhi in the Baradari. These ‘Samadhis’ have domes where the cremated ash of the dead were kept. The Baradari was meant to be the new rest place of Sher Singh and his son.

The arches are also in a poor condition and may collapse any time. The Auqaf Department which is responsible for its maintenance has constructed only two pillars to save the Baradari from collapsing.

The roof of the building has been demolished. There is no boundary wall. It is becoming a garbage dumping ground as the locals of the area dump garbage inside the Baradari.

When contacted, Waseem Ajmal, managing director of the Solid Waste Management Company, was not available on his phone (0300-8659660). A text message was also sent on his cell phone in this regard but he didn’t reply.

On the other hand the Auqaf Department officials said the department was doing its best for the repair of the Baradari but work had been delayed due to insufficient funds.

They said the department was already working on a number of different sites and soon repair work on the Baradari would also start. There is also a shrine of famous Sufi Saint Allama Mirza Syed Shah Bilawal Qadri on the premises of the Baradari where used to be held a Muslim festival.

Writers like Kannahiya Lal Hindi and Justice Abdul Latif have mentioned this festival in detail in their researches. The festival used to take place in the month of December.

Sajid Bashir, Lahore,, Friday, March 18, 2011

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Holla Mohalla in pictures 2011

Sikhnugget presents a round up of all the festivities at Holla Mohalla 2011 in pictures.

Devotees arrive to take part in the Hola Mohalla procession at Anandpur Sahib.

 Balwant Singh Nihang wearing a traditional 800-metre-long turban,
 takes part in the Holla Mohalla.

Procession at Hola Mohalla in Anandpur Sahib.

Nihang Dals show their presence at Anandpur Sahib

Sikh devotees spray perfume on the Palki Sahib  in a procession at
Harimandir Sahib  in Amritsar on Holla Mohalla.

Maharja exhibition displays splendour of India's Royal Courts

TORONTO—The Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts exhibition at the AGO(Art Gallery of Ontario) transports viewers to the beginning of the eighteenth century and into the world of the Maharajas of India.
Over 200 artifacts related to the opulent lives of the Maharaja, which means “great king” in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, are on display, assembled from private and public collections from India and Britain. These beautiful treasures include furniture, jewellery, royal costumes, ceremonial weapons, decorative art, and paintings. The exhibit even includes a custom built saffron-coloured Rolls Royce and a life-sized model elephant decked in fabrics.

The artifacts also tell the story of British influence on Indian life from the early eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. The golden throne is a good example of how the Maharaja’s life was influenced by British customs in the early nineteenth century.

The golden throne belonged to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who was crowned Maharaja on 12 April 1801 in what is modern day Pakistan. The throne is octagonal in shape and covered in gold with a lotus flower pattern on the base. The lotus flower is a symbol of purity, blossoming out of muddy water. The lotus flower also signifies the king’s connection to the divine.

Sword and Scabbard, c.1850 (V&A Images)
India was once a furniture-free society, where people would sit on the floor on mats and richly embossed pillows. Due to British influence, the king commissioned a throne, which was a European royal tradition. Maharaja Ranjit Singh died in 1839, after ruling for almost 40 years. The king’s body was cremated in an open pyre as was the custom in India. His queen committed sati, a Hindu practice of immolation. She sat on her husband’s pyre, holding his head on her lap and was burned to ashes with her husband and his other wives. Though Maharaja Ranjit Singh is dead and gone, his magnificent throne survives on display at the AGO.

The AGO provides detailed explanations of the history behind the objects and some multimedia presentation. The gallery’s website also contains a wealth of information about the artifacts.

The Maharaja exhibition will continue until April 3 and is free for anyone under 25. Group and senior discounts are available.

Visit AGO website:

The AGO is the second international destination and sole Canadian venue to host Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts. The exhibition originated at the V&A Museum in London, where it was on view from Oct. 10, 2009 to Jan. 10, 2010. Following its run at the AGO, the exhibition will visit The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco from Oct. 21, 2011 to April 8, 2012.

By Lishanthi Caldera, theepochtimes, Mar 18, 2011.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Nihang Speak (bole)

"Give me Nihal Kaur, I want to sleep," I exclaimed to my wife.

Shocked at my audacity to name another woman in the house, she demanded who this "Nihal Kaur" was.

"You are such an illiterate. You don't even know what a blanket in the Nihang lingo is," I retorted, showing off my latest acquisition - the 'bolays', or lingo of the Nihang Singhs.

As if the blunder over Nihal Kaur was not enough, I ordered my house help who hails from Jharkhand to chop two larraakis and a rupa for salad.
"Larki, rupayya," he asked, sounding even more shocked than my wife.
"Green chillies," I shouted. "And, rupa means onion," I said, trying to teach him my newly acquired Nihang nomenclature.

And from tomorrow onwards, it is going to be only one cup of dhid phookni (tea) with one thokhay baj (spoon) of sugar, I told the bewildered Ram Mohan, who by now thought I'd gone loony.

Having laid my hand on a pamphlet, which carried the bolays, I was threatening to turn the house into a Nihang dera. So much so, that when I went to a butcher shop, I asked for 2 kilos of akaash pari (goat).

"We don't keep birds with such names," the butcher had replied.

Nihangs, or a band of Sikh warriors of yore, like many nomadic communities through the centuries, developed a distinguishable dialect, which came to be known as gargaj bolay (the thundering language). According to a book by S.J.S, Paul, the Nihang nomenclature is a mixture of Punjabi, Hindi, Farsi and other dialects used in various regions of India.

Bolays or words, which form part of the Nihang dialect, usually served military or psychological purposes.

For example, the "larraaki" - red chilli - that I ordered refers to someone with a fighting nature as a result of the sting it leaves on one's tongue.

"Wear the blue robe and go buy yourself a 300 metre long turban if you want to behave Nihang-like," said my wife.

"I just might," I replied, since Holla Mohalla is approaching.

"Only if your akkar-bhan (fever) gets ok," she replied cheekily. My affair with the Nihangs, which is a combination of awe, love and hatred, dates back to childhood.
The famous Gurdwara Hariaa(n) Belaa(n) near Hoshiarpur is close to my village and one of the founders of the gurdwara, Giani Partap Singh, apparently stayed at our farm while the structure was being constructed. According to the grapevine, he used to drink his sukha (a cannabis drink) daily, and one day my grandfather asked him why he locked up his brain with this crazy substance every day.

"If you can lock as cheap a thing as hay with a huge padlock, isn't it important to lock a precious thing like a brain," he is supposed to have replied.

The association with the dera grew to an extent that to date, while on their nomadic sojourns, the Nihangs don't mind taking an overnight halt at our village, at least twice annually, even though their dera (place of residence) is just a few kilometres away.

Since childhood, I have seen them send a long list of groceries for themselves and their araakis (horses) during these halts. In earlier days, they also wouldn't mind leaving their horses loose in the fields for grazing, leading to tension. As I grew up, I took up horse-riding as a sport and one day challenged them to a game of tent pegging.

They would have done well, except that yours truly was in great form on that given day.

"Nihang material!" declared one of the babas after the debacle.

The bolays, according to the website, besides reflecting the struggles of the Khalsa, also ridicule those who have opposed the Sikhs at any stage in history. The term for a donkey is "thanedaar", meaning police officer, as Nihangs are renowned for their carefree disregard for worldly authorities, which the police represent.

Muslim priests (Qazis) encouraged many atrocities on the Sikhs during the Mughal rule in India. In return, the Singhs use the term Qazi when referring to a cockerel.

Nihang Singhs refer to their kachherey (briefs) as a chhauni, meaning encampment. Their kachhera is notoriously large in size and, when hung out to dry, from a far distance would appear to enemy scouts as tents of the Khalsa warriors; suggesting the Khalsa warriors numbered far greater than they did. Sava lakh - a hundred thousand! - to be precise.

The cold refuses to go and Nihal Kaur is not keeping me warm enough. I am back to my aflatoon (quilt) for the time being.

by Khuswant Singh, Chandigarh. Hindustan Times,

Bhagat Singh: Blood of a martyr at museum

A copy of The Tribune is kept at Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Museum at Khatkar Kalan.

A copy of The Tribune soaked with the blood of the revolutionaries and dated March 25, 1931, is the centre of attraction for visitors at the museum dedicated to Bhagat Singh here.

An urn made of glass contains the ashes of the martyr collected by Amar Kaur, a sister of the martyr, from Hussaniwala a day after the three freedom fighters were cremated on the banks of the Sutlej. Also exhibited is the pen used by the British judge to sign the black warrant.

There does appear renewed interest in Bhagat Singh as the museum now receives a steady stream of visitors not only from this region but from across the country.

His literature too is a big hit and people buy books and other items from here now. Earlier, only a few people came here, revealed the caretaker. All the approach roads to the village have been re-carpeted, the house of the martyr has been repainted and spruced up.

Everything is spic and span and it lives to its status of a model village. Posters and buntings added to the festive look in the village.

Farmers of the village have never had it so good with over 120 acres being taken on rent by various political outfits for holding the rallies tomorrow. The going rate is Rs 25, 000 per acre and an interesting aspect is that all the owners have been paid the money upfront. “

“Earlier, we had to run after the revenue officials to get our dues,” revealed a farmer.

Today even the policemen deployed here were seen paying their tributes and scores of them also bought literature from the museum.

The village today resembled a virtual garrison with senior police and civil officials overseeing the preparations. Police has been requisitioned from all over the state for the event and arrangements are being supervised by an ADGP. Two helipads have also been made, one for the official state function and the other for the Congress.

Sarbjit Dhaliwal and Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service, Khatkar Kalan, March 22

Monday, 21 March 2011

‘Guru ki fauj’ changes, but preserves traditions

Baba Balbir Singh, Budha Dal chief

The ‘Guru ka bagh ‘cantonment’ of the most prominent Budha Dal clan of Nihangs, the warrior saints created by tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, still retains its part-nomadic lifestyle, horses and even huge containers of ‘thandai’, the traditional cooling drink laced with ‘bhang’.

However, the winds of change have caught up with Nihangs, who can no longer be classified as illiterate preachers alone. The martial clan is undergoing a change, with the Budha Dal now immersing itself in educational and social activities. The Dal, which has been successfully running a school in Patiala since some time, has now also opened schools in Samana and Zirakpur.

A visit to the headquarters of the present Dal head Baba Balbir Singh still reveals the old martial signs but automatic pistols and guns have replaced weapons of yore. The image one gets is of an organisation which is reinventing itself to fit in the modern world. “Our followers now come from all walks of life and many of them are even bank managers and teachers”, says Baba Balbir Singh, who apparently lays a lot of stress on education. “All children of our community are studying in English-medium schools with the Dal funding their education, books and uniforms”, he says. It is holistic education which is helping children from the Dal to spread the Guru’s word in other states as well as abroad.

The Dal is also increasingly speaking out against drugs. Followers say ‘thandai’ laced with ‘bhang’ is only given as a ‘parsad’ according to custom when the army used to partake it before going in for battle. The Dal has initiated an ‘amrit parchar’ (ritual baptism) programme which it says has already resulted in 350 Sikhs being baptised during the last two days.

Even as Nihangs change, they preserve the traditional dress which includes a free-flowing gown called a ‘domala’ and a tightly wound blue turban. Martial art skills, including horse riding, tent-pegging and ‘gatka’ are also being preserved by the Dal which has three big ‘cantonments’ spread over 70 to 200 acres each in Punjab. The skills of the “army” of Guru Gobind are displayed on the last day of the Hola Mohalla celebrations.

Jangveer Singh/TNS, Anandpur Sahib, March 19

Friday, 18 March 2011

Nihang Singhs: The educational wisdom of the warriors.

Nihang Sikhs, who sport electric blue dresses, soaring turbans and daggers, knives and swords, are known for their amazing Sikh martial art skills (gatka), horsemanship and swordsmanship. But even in this close-knit community, there are those who have seen the value of education and have attained a university or college degree. They are now making their mark in various fields, while maintaining a deep bond with their community. Charandeep Singh meets several members of the Nihang community who are pro-education.

Valuable lessons After pursuing his own education, Capt Varinderjit Singh Dhillon, realised the importance of educating the next generation of Nihang Sikhs. He now works as a schoolteacher of moral science and Punjabi at Budha Dal Public School in Zirakpur.

“Education is the essence of life. I witnessed a huge change in my personality after I completed my graduation. Now, I want every child in my small Nihang Sikh community to be educated,“ asserts Dhillon, 51, who served in the Indian Army before taking up teaching.

He is close to his community and acts as the community's “chief liaison officer“, at various government offices. “I can easily interact with government officers since I worked for the government in the past and am quite familiar with the processes,“ he explains. “This has only been possible after receiving my formal education,“ he adds. Dhillon graduated from the Army College, Siliguri, after doing his schooling in Anandpur Sahib. He is also the editor of monthly magazine Nihang Singh Sandesh.

Dhillon's daughter is following in her father's footsteps and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Pharmacy. “I would love to send her abroad for further studies. She will be the first member of our family to study overseas,“ says the proud father. Besides teaching and dreaming of educating his kids on foreign shores, Dhillon is also a fitness freak and regularly goes on long walks or jogs. He is fond of sports and spends his spare time watching sports channels or driving his SUV. “My educational background and my fluency in English have made me a star in the Nihang Sikh community,“ he beams.

At just 25, Simranjeet Singh is an international roller-skating champion and runs his own documentation centre in Patiala. He attended public school in Patiala and then did his graduation in fine arts from Govt Mohindra College, Patiala. “My parents have always been a huge support and even encouraged me to study further,“ he says. Singh even went to work in Italy for a year. “My education as well as my exposure abroad has made me a prominent member of my community and has given me a special place among the Nihang Sikhs,“ he says.

Singh also performs gatka at various nagar kirtans (neighbourhood kirtan) all over Punjab. “I enjoy training youngsters in shastar vidya as only Nihang Sikhs practice this art. Had it not been for us, this tradition would have vanished. My expertise lies in handling traditional Sikh weapons like malatthi, daang, soti and chakkar,“ he shares. Also a philanthropist, Singh frequently donates money to underprivileged girls for their marriages and he also provides food and shelter to the needy.
SANTOKH SINGH Hard work pays off For Santokh Singh's family, education comes first. “My grandfather was a tehsildar (revenue officer) and my brother is an inspector in the police force. So, for me to pursue an education was absolutely essential,“ says Singh, 40, who studied humanities at Patel Memorial National College, Rajpura (affiliated to Punjabi University, Patiala). A Rajpurabased farmer, Singh spends ample time helping his children study. His daughter is pursuing her BCA and his son, who is still in school, is on Punjab's Under 16 cricket team. “I love tutoring my children and I always make it a point to sit with them while they study,“ he says.

Always armed with two kirpan's and a daang, Singh calls himself a true Nihang Sikh. He has never travelled abroad and feels that Punjab -“the land of Gurus“ -is heaven on earth. “I strongly feel that a higher education is enlightening. It has expanded my horizons and increased my understanding of the world,“ says Singh, who contributes to a monthly publication for Nihang Sikhs called Patrika Vihaar.

Singh, who enjoys watching the Discovery channel, is an avid reader who has read almost all of Osho's books. He is also a fan of Punjabi literature, his favourite novel being Marhi Da Diva. “I have received so much respect due to my educational background. I was a good student and worked very hard as I always wanted to achieve something in life,“ he says.
SUCHA SINGH The write way forward Fifty-two-year-old Sucha Singh started off as a teacher of Punjabi language at government schools until he was promoted and now works at the headquarters of the Punjab School Education Board. Hailing from an underprivileged background, he ended up doing his graduation in political science and history through correspondence. “My father always encouraged me to study, but we were very poor. I wanted to be an advocate and ended up paying R13,000 to do my LLB at Bhopal University but I had to drop out due to our financial situation,“ he shares.

But with Singh's determination, he succeeded anyway. He has written a book in Punjabi called Bajwe Dian Arshi Lehran (a collection of poems and short stories) and is working on his second book, which is a tribute to God. “Education has made me a better human being and has given me a privileged life, which wouldn't have been possible without formal education,“ says Rajpura-based Singh, who spends his spare time meditating.

Singh has three sons, and his eldest son has done his BCA. “Nowadays, there's so much competition and it's difficult to get a job. Kids need to have that edge over others if he or she wants to survive -there is no scope for mediocrity,“ reflects Singh.

Hindustan Times, 6th March 2011

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Capt Randhawa: Patiala loses preserver of Patiala Heritage

 Frescoes within Quila Mubarak

Patiala has lost its true son of the soil in the IAS officer, Capt Rupinder Singh Randhawa, who not only initiated heritage conservation of the Quila Mubarak, the palatial fort complex of the Phulkian dynasty, but also worked tirelessly to put flood-control measures in place in and around the city.

Capt Randhawa, who died following a prolonged illness yesterday, will be remembered for bringing the Quila Mubarak as well as the old city back into the limelight. He not only got the INTACH to take interest in the restoration of the painted chambers in the “Quila Androon” complex, but also initiated the process of reviving the old markets to make the old city a vibrant cultural hub.

The legwork done by the IAS officer during his stint as Director, Cultural Affairs, was largely responsible for the heritage festivals held around the Quila Mubarak complex later as well as restoration of the Quila Mubarak and the Durbar Hall.

As the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Capt Randhawa also learnt from the floods experienced by Patiala in 1993 which led to loss of many lives and initiated the process of removing obstacles in riverbeds as well as correcting wrong planning while creating siphons on the Ghaggar. The officer, who was always a hands-on man, led from the front during subsequent flooding and was instrumental in saving lives and property in many cases.

Randhawa, who was at present working as the Land Acquisition Officer for Powercom, was also a foodie who loved to cook his own meals and keep an open house for his friends and relatives. A symbol of simplicity and honesty, he will be remembered by all Patialvis for years to come.

Jangveer Singh, Tribune News Service, Chandigarh, March 16

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Auction of rare artwork at Sotheby’s raises questions

Doubts over authenticity of Maharaja Ranjit Singh painting by Sobha Singh; some say it’s the same piece ‘smuggled’ out of Golden Temple in 1984; grandson says signature of artist missing

New York-based auction house Sotheby’s is all set to auction a rare portrait of Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh on March 24. Painted by celebrated artist Sobha Singh, the artwork has a reserved price of Rs 2 crore. Art lovers in Punjab want the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to stop the auction but the latter says it does not plan to do so.

On the other hand, eyebrows are also being raised regarding the authenticity of the portrait, with questions being asked if the art piece is the one that was “smuggled” out of the Sikh Museum in Golden Temple in 1984. There were reports that the painting was taken away by a few NRIs after it was damaged during Operation Blue Star.

“We have come to know about the auction but have no plans to buy the portrait,” said SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh. Regarding the possibility that this is the same art piece that was taken away from the Sikh Museum, he said he had heard such talks but no inquiry was ever conducted. “The museum was badly damaged during Blue Star. However, we are not sure if the portrait was taken away from the museum,” said Singh.

Dr Hriday Pal Singh, Secretary, Sobha Singh Memorial Art Society, Kangra (Himachal Pradesh), said they had received information from Sotheby’s regarding the action. “We got an e-mail recently that the painting of Maharaja Ranjit Singh by Sobha Singh will feature in the auction. They also asked if we were interested in it, but we want that the authenticity of the art piece is confirmed first,” said Hriday Pal, who is also Sobha Singh’s grandson.

Singh said he had seen the portrait on Sotheby’s website and to his surprise the signature of Sobha Singh had been erased. “Though I am sure the portrait is the one made by my grandfather, his missing signature is surprising,” he said, adding that the 39/29-inch oil-based portrait shows the Maharaja seated on a silver throne, wearing jewelry and a diamond on his turban, wit his famous sword resting on his legs. “There were many replicas of the portrait made and one of them is available with us at our gallery at Andretta village near Palampur,” said Singh.

Apart from this portrait, the Sikh Museum also had a portrait of Guru Nanak commissioned in 1969 on his 500th birth anniversary. This portrait is missing too.

“We had requested the SGPC to set up a separate section in the museum in the name of Sobha Singh and place his above 50 rare portraits, but there had been no response,” said Dr Hriday Pal Singh, adding that such a separate section had been built in the Chandigarh Museum.

Dharmendra Rataul,, Mar 14 2011

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Gatka in the national school agenda

To preserve and promote traditional games, the state government has announced the inclusion of sports like gatka in schools and colleges’ curriculum. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has announced sports to be a priority area in the SAD-BJP’s agenda for the governance.

Encouraged by the state government’s decision, the Punjab Gatka Association (PGA) has requested Sukhbir to include gatka and other traditional games in the gradation list of the state Sports Department.

PGA general secretary Harjeet Singh Grewal, also the DPRO (Rupnagar), said the state Education Department had already initiated steps to incorporate gatka in the schools, colleges and universities' sports calendars and would also soon organise inter-district Gatka competitions. Besides, universities from the state were also organising their inter-college gatka competitions.

Grewal said the PGA had recently organised the first Punjab State Open Gatka Championship at Mohali and the National Gatka Championship was now scheduled to be held in May at Sangrur.

Tribune News Service, Chandigarh, March 12

Hola Mohalla to go eco-friendly

The Hola Mohalla celebrations this year are all set to go environment friendly and clean.Langar organisers have been directed to place at least two mega-sized dustbins for the disposal of plates and other materials on which food will be served to pilgrims.

The idea is to keep the place, which swarms with thousands of devotees making beeline for the Hola Mohalla celebrations to be held from March 14.

The district administration has also made an appeal to the langar organisers and other shopkeepers to minimise the usage of plastic to maintain the sanctity of the festival. An international Sikh Group, EcoSikh, has appealed to Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib, to persuade the authorities and pilgrims coming to Anandpur Sahib not to use plastic bags and plastic products.

Project director Ravneet Singh said the Hola Mohalla was celebrated as the Gurta Gaddi Divas (enthronement day) of Guru Har Rai. He had special sensitivity towards nature preservation and well-being of animals.

He said, “Sikhs all over the world are celebrating March 14 as Sikh Environment Day.

The jathedar of Akal Takht has already declared March 14 as Sikh Environment Day. The EcoSikh called upon all political parties to emphatically persuade clean up mess
after their political conventions.”

Group activists said, “Plastic, styrofoam and chemicals leaching out of these petroleum-based products are detrimental to ecosystem of sacred location.” The district administration too has appealed for minimum usage of plastic.

Deputy Commissioner Arunjit Singh Miglani said the SGPC had been appealed to display quotes from Gurbani that promote healthy and green environment. He has imposed ban on pressure horns and those who violate it shall be challaned. Also a ban has been imposed on usage of gulal and fireworks.

Megha Mann, Tribune News Service, Anandpur Sahib, March 12

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Translating the Zafarnama of Guru Gobind Singh

 It was difficult to translate an 18th century text addressed by Sikh Guru Gobind Singh to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, says diplomat-writer Navtej Sarna who tried not to deviate from the original for the sake of the verse."The most important thing in translating Persian verse into English is that you cannot do a very literal translation," says Sarna, the Indian envoy to Israel who has transcreated "Zafarnama: The Epistle of Victory".

The text was written by Guru Gobind Singh and addressed to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb to criticise his "oppressive ways" some time around 1705.

"There are conflicting views and conflicting interpretations. I had to the get the right text of the original from among the different versions, the Sikh chronicles and commentaries on the translations. I could not stray very much but had to stay close to the text without deviating too much from the literal text for the sake of the verse," Sarna told IANS.

A special hardback of "Zafarnama" was launched at the Penguin India's 10-day literary festival, Spring Fever, here March 4. It is priced at Rs. 295.

"I worked on it for two years," Sarna said. According to him, "at least two sets of difficulties compounded the difficulties".

"The first were the problems caused by the transcription of the text of 'Zafarnama', preserved in the 'Dasam Granth' (holy book of the Sikhs) into Gurmukhi.

"The transcriptions were often accompanied by the introduction of material changes by scribes, sometimes to reflect a particular historical viewpoint, but equally often because of difficulties in interpreting the text or desire to amend existing readings to ones that seemed to make more sense to the copyist.(IANS)

"These Gurmukhi texts, already at variance with the original and with each other, in turn became the basis for further interpretations and commentary," Sarna said.

The second difficulty was that "Indian-Persian, which had diverged significantly by the late Mughal period from classical Persian, both in literary terms as well as in pronunciation, could only be reproduced imperfectly in the Gurmukhi script, thus adding another layer of variations".

"Therefore, I was confronted with several choices even before coming to the actual process of translation. Primarily, I had to decide which particular text to rely on.

"Then I had to choose how to depict the transliteration - in Indian-Persian or in Persian as it is spoken today, or in a generally accepted form which is as close to the Indian-Persian as the Gurmukhi script will allow. I decided in favour of the last option," Sarna said.

"Zafarnama", a Persian text composed by the last Sikh guru, an accomplished linguist and writer, is an "indictment of Aurangzeb's rule which the guru said was marked by the spiritual and moral bankruptcy of the empire".

The 10th guru was a challenge to Aurangzeb because the former opposed the Mughal emperor's "oppressive ways". The opposition led to several wars between the two.

The epistle, written in 111 stanzas, is a powerful call to "the rule of law, code of morality and compassion", stirring passions with brief homily-like sonnets that the guru hurls at his formidable adversary: "I have no faith at all/In the oath that you swear/That is the god who is one/Your witness does bear....

"I worked in between my job, mostly on weekends. Saturdays were the days I worked the most. It took me several attempts for I kept playing with the text," Sarna said.

Guru Gobind Singh was the most influential guru because he was a "brilliant scholar, poet and master of several languages," Sarna said. "He knew Persian, Arabic, Avadhi, Braj Bhasa and Sanskrit. He wrote extensively in Punjabi and Persian."

The guru was also the founder of the legion of the saint-warrior. "He moulded the Sikh community in such a way that it got an image. He built on the spiritual inheritance of all the previous gurus," Sarna said.

The writer is planning to return to the creative groove for his next project, away from translation.New Delhi,

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS),

Image is a handwritten Sri Dasam Granth with Zafarnama in persian. 

Also see : New Translation of Zafarnama

Thursday, 3 March 2011

UNESCO steps in preserve Punjab Heritage

Putting a Rs 100 crore culture Preservation plan on fast track, the Punjab government today signed an MoU( memorandum of understanding) with UNESCO to prepare a proper and professional policy for preservation of heritage and culture of Punjab.

The MoU was signed by Punjab Principal Secretary, Tourism and Cultural Affairs Geetika Kalha and UNESCO Director Armoogum Parsuramen in the presence of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Appreciating the noble initiative, Mr Badal said that Punjab was the first state in the country that had chosen professional model to preserve oldest cultural heritage of Punjab.

He said Punjab was rich in tangible and intangible cultural heritage ranging from archaeological remains of the 5,000 year old Indus civilisation right up to the planning and construction of the modernist capital of its capital city-Chandigarh.

He said that this heritage of the state displayed rich evidence of being a thriving and much sought about gateway to the subcontinent and a key stop along important trade routes such as the linkages to the Silk road and later the Grand Trunk Road; encompassing not only tangible assets of archaeology and architecture, but a rich philosophy, poetry, spirituality, crafts, artistry, music, cuisine and multifold traditions.

Mr Badal said the Punjab government through its Department of Culture, Archaeology and Museum had taken a unique and visionary initiative to develop a State Cultural Heritage Policy in order to guide the use of Rs 100 crore funds in all fields with relevance to the cultural heritage and helping to improve institutional, legal and other frameworks to better preserve, manage and sustainably use its cultural heritage.

He said that the Punjab government had sought the assistance of UNESCO, New Delhi whose mandate was to protect and promote natural and cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, moveable and immoveable while enhancing international mutual understanding among nations and people.

Mr Badal said that this project would be completed within 18 months and the government had already earmarked Rs 100 crore for this. He said that in the first phase focus would be on preservation of Monuments/Museums identified by UNESCO.

He said that the archival heritage had been identified as a major strength of the state government and efforts were also being made to preserve and conserve these by adopting modern and scientific techniques.
Chandigarh, Feb 26 :--UNI


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