Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh Monday said only the SGPC will set up the main stage to hold religious events at Sultanpur Lodhi during the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev next month.
However, he welcomed a separate stage by the Punjab government at Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala, stressing that it should only be used for spreading the message of the Sikh guru, instead of political speeches.
The decision of the highest temporal seat of Sikhs came amid a deadlock between the Punjab government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee over the issue of the joint celebrations.
Talking to the media here, the Jathedar said the SGPC had been directed to make arrangements for the stage at Gurdwara Ber Sahib in Sultanpur Lodhi as per Sikh tenets.
“It will be a common stage for all,” asserted the Jathedar, adding that the SGPC chief was directed to welcome all political and religious leaders besides government officials without any prejudice. Representatives of any political party are welcome at the main programme being organised by the SGPC, he said.
“If anyone like president, Prime Minister, Punjab or any other sate chief minister or former chief minister or any other dignitaries come for the function then it would be responsibility of the SGPC to honour the visit. Some Sikh scholar will be asked to do the job of stage secretary during the function. All will be given space and time to speak from stage. Akal Takht Jathedar will read the message for community to conclude the function. Stage will be set by SGPC for functions on October 11 and 12,” reads a press note released by Akal Takht.
The Jatehdar also asked the Punjab government to join the main religious event being organised by the apex gurdwara body from November 1 to 12.
On October 15, the state government had offered to hold functions at Sultanpur Lodhi under the aegis of the Akal Takht and with the support of the SGPC to break the logjam over the joint celebrations.
The SGPC has decided to hold the main event at a stadium near Gurdwara Ber Sahib in Sultanpur Lodhi on November 12 while the state government wanted to hold the function near a “tent city” coming up there. Gurudwara Ber Sahib administration is under the SGPC.
Controversy and war of words had erupted with SGPC on one side and Congress led Punjab government on other side after AKal Takht had asked both to put one stage to celebrate the birth anniversary.
After almost three months of arguments between both sides, taking an initiative to break the deadlock, the Punjab government last Tuesday had offered to hold the Sultanpur Lodhi functions on November 11 and 12 under the patronage of the Akal Takht, with the support of the SGPC.
As per the proposal of Punjab government, no political speeches would be allowed at the main function, during which only the Jathedars of the five Takhts, the head granthi of Darbar Sahib, the Prime Minister (or any other senior representative of the Central Government), former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the Chief Minister and SGPC president would be present on the stage.
“The concerned Gurudwara has always organised the celebrations for the anniversaries and it should be same this time also. Gurudwara Ber Sahib administration along with SGPC will setup the stage. All the community should come together for anniversary,” said Jathedar.
Meanwhile, Punjab Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said, “We will have a separate stage. I want to assure the Jathedar that we will only sing praise for Guru Nanak Dev from the stage and there would be no political speeches from the dais”.
He added that it would be a stage of the state government, elected by people’s mandate and it was not a stage of a political party. Randhawa also said that a galaxy of personalities from across the world would be present at the stage. The government has invited the Pope, and other religious dignitaries at the function.
The government has already got the invites printed for various functions being held between
November 1 to 8. It will be printing separate invites for functions between November 9 to 12. The decision about these functions would be taken at a meeting to be called by Chief Minister.
With PTI inputs