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Diaspora

Global Sikh Council Calls for return of Takht Sri Patna Sahib and Takht Sri Hazur Sahib to Sikhs' control

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | June 22, 2024 08:32 PM

CHANDIGARH: The Global Sikh Council (GSC), a confederation of national-level Sikh organizations worldwide, strongly urges the return of control over the Takhts of Patna Sahib and Hazur Sahib from the respective State Governments of Bihar and Maharashtra to the Sikh community. The GSC calls upon the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the global Sikh diaspora to take decisive steps to liberate and reclaim these sacred Takhts from both the governments oversight.

Stating this in a joint press release, GSC president Lady Singh Dr. Kanwaljit Kaur, Chairman Lord Indarjit Singh, Chairman of Legal Affairs Committee Jagir Singh, and Chairman of Religious Affairs Committee Dr. Karminder Singh highlighted the historical and religious significance of these Takhts. They informed that Takht Patna Sahib is being governed by the Patna Sahib Constitution and Bylaws of 1957, while Takht Hazur Sahib is regulated by the Nanded Sikh Gurdwara Sachkhand Sri Hazur Apchalnagar Sahib Act of 1956. These regulations allow significant interference of both the governments in the Takhts’ religious ceremonies and administrative affairs.

Elaborating historical importance and current Issues the GSC has highlighted that Takht Sri Patna Sahib and Takht Sri Hazur Sahib hold immense reverence within Sikhi. Takht Patna Sahib marks the birthplace of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji on December 22, 1666, while Takht Hazur Sahib is where Guru Gobind Singh Ji spent his last months and bestowed Gurtagaddi on the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, thereby concluding the lineage of living Gurus.

However, the GSC points out that current practices at these Takhts violate fundamental Sikh tenets. "Activities such as the ritual slaughter of goats, the parkash and recital of 'Akhand Path' of 'Bachitter Natak' (Dasham Granth) in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and the performance of Artee rituals are not in accordance with the Sikh Rehet Maryada. The daily Artee ritual at Takht Hazur Sahib, which includes lighted lamps, contradicts the guidance of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji as expressed in Gurbani", they added.

The GSC emphasized that wide-ranging powers given to district Judges under these bylaws enable full government control over the affairs of Takht Patna Sahib, a legacy from the East India Company era (circa 1810). This control infringes upon the fundamental right of Sikhs to manage their religious affairs, institutions and property attached thereto. Highlighting the legal and constitutional contexts the GSC has informed that according to Section 26 of the Indian Constitution, religious denominations have the right to establish and maintain institutions, manage its own affairs, and to own and acquire movable and immovable properties. "The Supreme Court of India in “Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Madras v. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Mutt (AIR 1954 SC282)” has also affirmed this right, noting that removing administration from a religious denomination amounts to violation of the right guaranteed under clause (d) of Article 26", they added.

The GSC representatives lamented that the Sikhs appointed to the committee of Takht Patna Sahib and those appointed as its board members have very little say in the governance of the Takht and over religious worship. "Even the employees at these two Takhts, which number between 400 to 500 each, are more than 90 percent non-Sikhs who are not even conversant with Gurmukhi and Gurbani. Furthermore, the Gianis (religious priests) at this Takhts do not follow the Sikh Rehet Maryada, a Panthic approved code of conduct, and many of their practices are not Gurmat compliant. Moreover, the practices at these Takhts are impacting other parts of Punjab and Sikh communities overseas, which resist these non-compliant practices.

The GSC has appealed to the Sikhs worldwide to oppose unwarranted government interference in the Sikh institutions. The GSC has called upon the SGPC and all the Sikh diaspora to take immediate action to safeguard our religious heritage through democratic means and to get back these Takhts under the control of Sikhs and be liberated from the control of the State Governments of Bihar and Maharashtra. The GSC has released a detailed paper titled “The 5 Takhts and SGPC, ” outlining the necessary steps to reclaim and manage these sacred Gurdwaras.

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