Some Dalit and Sikh organisations have come together to observe the anniversary of an event, which played a key role in mobilisation of Sikhs and formation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
On October 12, 1920, Sikhs had managed to restore the rights of Dalit Sikhs to pay obeisance and offer ‘Karah Prasad’ at Golden Temple and Akal Takht.
“The interference of British government into the management of Golden Temple and Akal Takht had not only led to strong attack on the basic principle of equality in the Sikhism but had also polluted the environment of the spiritual institutions of Sikhs,” said Dr Kashmir Singh Khunda, president, Dalits and Minorities Organising Punjab (DMOP).
DMOP along with Kendri Shiri Guru Singh Sabha (Chandigarh), Global Sikh Council, Baba Bir Singh and Dhir Singh Foundation, Anandpur Sahib Heritage Foundation and Institute of Sikh Studies (Chandigarh) have been organising different functions to observe the anniversary.
Kashmir Singh said, “Soon after Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule came to an end, British overpowered the Sikh institutions and allowed some Mahants and priests to take control. This led to restrictions on Dalit Sikhs, who were not allowed to offer karah prasad.”
SGPC book ‘Akali Morchean Da Itehas’ sates that the premises of Golden Temple had become a centre of thieves and anti social elements. It was not safe for women, was badly kept with animals moving around and even non-religious functions were being held there.
According to book ‘Akali Morche and Jhabbar’ published by SGPC, with the support of Chief Khalsa Diwan, Sikh body ‘Khalsa Baradari’ called a gathering of Ravidassia community at Jallianwala Bagh against the restrictions on Dalit Sikhs inside Golden Temple on October 11, 2012. It was decided that Dalit Sikhs would go to Golden Temple and offer karah parsad.
Large gathering of Dalit and non Dalit Sikhs, along with professors and students of Khalsa College Amritsar reached the Golden Temple on October 12, 1920 at 8 am. Mahants and preachers unsuccefully attempted to stop the gathering outside Golden Temple.
They , however, declined to accept the karah prasad from the Dalit Sikhs. On this, Khalsa College’s Professor Harkishan Singh said, “Preachers are not better Sikhs than us. We can also perform the ardas on our own. Please all stand up.”
In the meanwhile emerging Sikh leader of that time, Kartar Singh Jhabbar, who later become SGPC president, also reached the spot and asked preachers if Golden Temple was there personal property.
“Where in Sikh text has been written that Dalit Sikhs can’t offer karah parsad? You must accept the karah prasad from Dalit Sikhs. If you do not follow this order of Sangat then we will throw you out of the Golden Temple,” said Jhabbar.
Preachers preferred to walk away.
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