CHANDIGARH (TIP): Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee – the mini parliament of Sikhs – has decided to participate in the Kumbh Mela for the first time, inviting criticism from various quarters, according to a report published in January 13 edition of Times of India. While the decision has apparently been taken at the behest of the top bosses of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), which heads a coalition government in Punjab with the BJP, the SGPC is projecting it as an opportunity to make the Hindus from far-off places aware of Sikhism and the sacrifices made by the Sikh Gurus and the community. The committee has started shortlisting Sikh literature in Hindi that will be available at the mela.
The decision had been taken at a meeting of the executive committee of SGPC a few days ago. Sources said there was some opposition to the proposal to participate in the Kumbh Mela, the largest gathering of Hindus, when SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar tabled it in the executive meeting. Many members pointed out that the mela had no significance in Sikhism and participation in the religious gathering would send out a wrong signal, especially about the independent identity of the Sikhs.
Finally, it was decided to put up a stall of literature published by SGPC at the mela. When asked about the reason for the move, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said it provided a large target audience for making people aware about Sikhism. He said SGPC would also hold a photo and literature exhibition and organize a langar. SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh has been sent to Allahabad to coordinate with the authorities. Makkar said he has issued directives to SGPC staff for short-listing the books that give an insight into Sikh history and to make these available in Hindi in good numbers. Slamming the SGPC’s decision, All India Sikh Students Federation president Karnail Singh Peermohammad said this has been done at the behest of RSS and is against the ideals propounded by the first Sikh master, Guru Nanak, and other gurus. “We respect everyone’s beliefs, but participating in the mela does not have any religious importance in Sikhism,” he added.