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N.C.M. Demands Withdrawal of Guru Granth Stamp
According to this revelatory news item, Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and National Commission for Minorities (N.C.M.) Chairman Tarlochan Singh agree that "Guru Granth Sahib is revered as a living God of Sikhs, therefore no photograph can be printed in any form and that too in a stamp accessible to public. And that too without a rumala, as in accordance with the Sikh maryada." Someone should inform these comedians that the Internet is littered with pictures of the Guru Granth. Furthermore, only someone with no clue about Sikh theology would fail to make a distinction between Guru and God. Finally, since the Sikh God is abstract, the term "living God" makes about as much sense as anything else we're likely to hear from these ignorami.
The Tribune, New Delhi, Aug. 3, 2005
Photo: Tarlochan Singh, extreme left
Upset over the way Guru Granth Sahib has been portrayed on a postal stamp designed by the Department of Posts to commemorate 400 years of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib, the National Commission for Minorities (N.C.M.) has asked the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to take immediate action for withdrawing the stamp.
In a strongly-worded letter to Secretary (Posts) R. Ganeshan today, the N.C.M. called the printing of the stamp in the current form as 'an act of sacrilege that will definitely hurt religious sentiments of the entire Sikh community.'
The letter follows a telephonic conversation between Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and N.C.M. Chairperson Tarlochan Singh after a meeting held between N.C.M. members and senior postal department officials on the issue yesterday.
The letter stated that the stamp prepared by the Department of Posts was not in proper order and asked it to withdraw the stamp and also inform the public by issuing a press note in this regard.
In fact, it also directed the department to consult the N.C.M. before designing stamps on religious matters of the notified minority communities, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs and Buddhists, in future.
Talking to The Tribune, N.C.M. Chairman Tarlochan Singh said the commission asked the Postal Department to show the stamp to it after a complaint was received, saying that the stamp was not in proper order.
The stamp ran into trouble after there was a dispute between the Punjab Government and the S.G.P.C. regarding who and where the stamp designed to commemorate the 400 years of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib will be released. Later, it was reportedly released in certain states quietly.
'Interestingly, both the Punjab Government and the S.G.P.C. were engaged in a squabble over who will release the stamp rather than ascertaining whether it was in order. After we received a complaint, we asked the Department of Posts to respond, which it did after 22 days when two of its senior officials made a presentation of the stamp to the commission yesterday,' he said.
After inspecting the brochures and copies of the stamp and taking the Akal Takht Jathedar's opinion on the matter, the N.C.M. wrote to the department today, saying that the stamp, in its present form, was not acceptable.
'I spoke to Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti on phone yesterday and described the stamp to him. He said that Guru Granth Sahib is revered as a living God of Sikhs, therefore no photograph can be printed in any form and that too in a stamp accessible to public. And that too without a rumala [cloth covering], as in accordance with the Sikh maryada [code of conduct]. In fact, the head-priest of Bangla Sahib Gurdwara, Giani Ranjeet Singh, who was also present at the meeting yesterday, also rejected the stamp in its present form,' he said.
Expressing surprise that the N.C.M. was not consulted before initiating the design of the stamp, Mr. Tarlochan Singh said care should be taken to ensure that a religious stamp does not hurt the sentiments of the community concerned.
'Earlier too, postal stamps on Sikh religion have been released but they were done in an appropriate manner. For example, for the 500-year birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, a picture of his birthplace Nankana Sahib was printed on the stamp. Likewise for the 300-year birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh, a picture of his birthplace Patna Sahib was used on the stamp,' he said.
On whether the stamp will be withdrawn, the N.C.M. chairman said, 'the postal department will have to do that. Especially if it does not want to hurt the Sikh sentiments like it happened in the case of the film Jo Bole So Nihaal.