Working to preserve the heritage buildings in and around city, the Sangrur Heritage Preservation Society has organized the first ever Sangrur Heritage and Literary Festival from November 20-22, which are being held at the heritage locations like Banasar Bagh, General Gurnam Singh Public School, Shahi Samadhan and others in the city.
The major highlight on Saturday, the second day of the festival, was the release of a documentary film ‘Gyanjot’ based on the life of Sant Attar Singh- who is remembered for opening the first school for girls, way back in 1906.
Directed by Jagraon based director, Harjeet Singh, the 26-minute film highlights how Sant Attar Singh gave prime importance to education among girls. Singh had opened a school girls even before he opened one for both boys and girls.
Harjeet Singh in February this year also made ‘Eh Janam Tumhare Lekhe’— a tribute to the great philanthropist Bhagat Puran Singh, who spent his entire life for the disabled, sick and forlorn persons and opened shelter homes ‘Pingalwara’ across Punjab.
Sant Attar Singh — born in Cheema village, in Jind now of Punjab, in 1866, joined army in 1885. However, he is widely respected among Sikh community for converting Mastuana, dense jungles in Sangrur into a educational hub by opening school there. He is also widely referred to as Baba Attar Singh Mastuana Wale.
A secluded thick forest near Sangrur-Mastuana was used for grazing cattle and meditation before Attar Singh developed it into a educational hub from 1901-1925 with help of his devotees and locals. In 1906, a school for girls- believed to be the first one- was opened there. Also, fresh meals for more than 500 wandering hermits was provided at Mastuana daily under his leadership.
Akal Degree College for both boys and girls was also setup at Mastuana after the schools.
Speaking to Indian Express, Harjeet Singh, who made the documentary after research of almost four months after he was assigned this project by organizers, said, “He developed Mastuana as key center for growth of Sikhism and imparting education combined with spirituality based on teachings of Guru Nanak Dev. He opened and laid foundation stones for multiple schools and colleges and attended various Sikh educational conferences. Accepting the request of Madan Mohan Malvya- a great social reformer- Attar Singh laid foundation stone of Banaras Hindu University in 1914.”
It is also believed that when people (devotees) tried to touch his feet after he sang shabad kirtan, he did not allow and said that Gurus teachings should be remembered with folded hands and thus none should touch his feet.
Harjeet Singh added that when Karanvir Singh Sibia, director of Sangrur Heritage and Literary Fest asked him to prepare film on life of this great educationist, he readily obliged.
A poetry session by Padma Shri Surjit Patar was another highlight of event, who read Letters of Amrita Pritam. The inaugural session saw the presentation of Panjabi folk instruments along with the jugal bandi by over 13 artists, followed by discussion on protection of rich urban heritage, Saddat Hassan Manto’s writings, and book readings of ‘Mera Pind’ by Gyani Gurdit Singh’s novel and Dr Shivdev Singh Sidhu’s “Beyond the Village Pond”. Ludhiana based calligraphist Kamaljeet Kaur who did calligraphy for ‘Chaar Saahibzaade’ also participated.