In a first, portrait of a Sikh woman, Jasbir Kaur Khalsa, was put up in the central Sikh museum at the Golden Temple for her contribution in filed of Gurmat Sangeet. The move is significant as women are not allowed to perform Kirtan at the Golden Temple. Born in 1947, Jasbir Kaur played a great role in establishing the Chair of Gurmat Sangeet at Punjabi University, Patiala, which is now the only university to offer courses, including masters degree in Gurmat Sangeet. Herself a student of Gurmat Sangeet, Jasbir Kaur was inspired from Sikh religious preacher Attar Singh for signing hymns.
Head of Gurmat Sangeet Department, Gurnam Singh, at Patiala university was present as SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar unveil the portrait of Jasbir Kaur in central Sikh museum on Thursday. Portrait of three more Sikhs were installed in museum along with Jasbir Kaur.
A portrait of Bakshish Singh was also installed for serving as hazoori raagi (one designated to sing at Golden Temple). Talking about Jasbir Kaur, Gurnam Singh said, “She had a vision for Gurmat Sangeet and she funded university to establish the Gurmat Sangeet Chair….It was back in 2003 when she founded Shri Guru Gian Parkash Foundation and signed an MoU with Punjabi University to establish a Chair for Gurmat Sangeet. She promised university Rs 90 lakh in 15 years to run the courses on Gurmat Sangeet. She lived for nine years after signing MoU…the Chair was established in 2003 .”
He added that the Department of Gurmat Sangeet was unique and it got huge response, and anow it was being run like any other department, with no burden to the university.
About women not being allowed to perform kirtan at the Golden Temple, he said: “First requirement for women to sing as Golden Temple is to attain that potential to sing there. Only highly qualified singers can sing at Golden Temple. There had been no tradition among Sikhs to make their daughters hymn singers. So, Jasbir Kaur has established an institution which would aspire women to become qualified hymn singers. It will be a big step towards resolving issue around who can perform at Golden Temple and who can’t.”
Portrait of Satwant Singh Kaleka was also installed on Wednesday, who saved many lives as a Sikh temple in Washington was attacked in 2012. Portrait of Sikh leader Baba Visakha Singh also also put up.