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Vedanti Rejects Proposed Change to Ardas
By VARINDER WALIA
The Tribune, Wagah, Nov. 18, 2005
Photo: Iqbal Singh (left) and Rattan Singh, jathedar and deputy jathedar of Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib, respectively, leaving for Pakistan to attend a meeting of the International Advisory Board of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, at Wagah, Amritsar.
Giani Iqbal Singh, jathedar [head-priest], Patna Sahib, and Giani Rattan Singh, deputy jathedar, Takht Hazoor Sahib, recently returned, via the Wagah land route, from Pakistan after attending the first meeting of the International Advisory Committee of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee [P.S.G.P.C.]. Upon their return they announced that the phrase 'easy access' to Sikh shrines would be deleted from the daily Sikh ardas (petition-prayer) of Patna Sahib Takht. Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, who stayed away from the meeting, said such a 'unilateral' decision was unacceptable to the Panth.
However, Mr. Mohinder Singh Romana, president, Patna Sahib Management Committee, while endorsing the decision of jathedar Vedanti said that jathedar Iqbal Singh had no right to change the ardas which was finalized after eight years of marathon discussions (from 1936 to 1944).
While, jathedar Patna Sahib said that the Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib had the right to take independent decisions, Mr. Romana said that the decision would be declared 'null and void' in the forthcoming management meeting at Patna Sahib.
However, jathedar Iqbal Singh said that the ardas, being performed at Patna Sahib had been altered when the Government of Pakistan allowed 'Sikh Babas' to carry out 'kar seva' at the Sikh shrines in Pakistan. He said Baba Amrik Singh was given multiple visa and he could visit Pakistan anytime. However, jathedar Vedanti said that it carried no weight as the Sikh sangat still required visas to visit gurdwaras in Pakistan. 'Had jathedar Iqbal Singh and Giani Rattan Singh gone to Pakistan without visas?' he asked.
The Sikhs in their daily ardas pray to the Almighty for 'khule darshan didar' (easy access to the Sikh shrines) in Pakistan which were separated from the Sikhs after Partition. However, jathedar Iqbal Singh said that no sovereign country like Pakistan would allow anybody to visit the country without a passport or valid visa. He said Pakistan and the P.S.G.P.C. had done a lot to reconstruct gurdwaras at behest of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.
Meanwhile, Mr. Makhan Singh, an S.G.P.C. member who attended the meeting of P.S.G.P.C., announced that jathedar Iqbal Singh could not take a decision regarding the ardas on his own as such Panthic decisions could only be taken by the Akal Takht.
It is pertinent to mention here that the P.S.G.P.C. had constituted a 15-member International Advisory Panel in September last year. While Capt. Amarinder Singh, chief minister of Punjab, had expressed his inability to be a member, jathedars continued to figure on the committee. However, jathedar Vedanti claimed that he did not receive an invitation from the P.S.G.P.C. to attend the meeting.
Among those who attended the meeting of the International Advisory Board, held at Lahore, were Mr. Harwinder Singh Sarna, a member of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Dr. Ganga Singh Dhillon, president, Nankana Sahib Foundation, and Dr. Pritpal Singh, president, American Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee.