Until Friday, all 98 Nam Charcha Ghars in Punjab organised daily prayer meetings as has been the norm for the month of August, the birthday month of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. As of today, no one is being allowed to enter these properties, and even their administrators are not being allowed to leave. Officially, the Punjab government says that none of the state’s 98 deras have been sealed.
There is curfew in the areas where these deras are located, and heavy security deployed outside. The naam charchas came to halt on Saturday. Stating that no dera in Punjab will be sealed, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, who was in Bathinda on Sunday, said that at present only a few persons involved in managing of dera affairs were left inside. Police revealed that around 400-500 followers from each dera in Malwa were sent home on Saturday itself.
“We will be keeping a constant vigil on deras and no anti-social, anti-national activity will be allowed inside the deras,” the CM said. Dera followers, meanwhile, said that naam charcha inside these deras were expected to start again as soon as situation normalises.
Asked to reveal what happens during these naam charcha sessions, followers said that they are two-hour prayer sessions during which those present indulge in shabad gyan, pravachan and guru mantra jap.
“During the two-hour session, shabad gyan happens for about an hour. All shabads written in the books given to us by the Sirsa dera are sung by the followers. We all do guru mantra jap for 15-20 minutes sitting in a hall together. In addition to this, pravachan happens for the remaining time which is read from the books — ‘Sachkhand Ki Sadak’ and ‘Parmarthi Karishme’,” said Gurbax Singh, a follower from Harigarh village in Barnala.
Other followers said that these books are sent to the deras from Sirsa, adding that while ‘Sachkhand ki Sadak’ is a book written in several parts,
‘Parmarthi Karishme’ details ‘miracles’ claimed to have beem performed by previous dera gurus, Shah Mastana and Shah Satnam.
According to dera followers, while these prayer assemblies are held weekly at the Naam Charcha Ghars, there are daily meetings in August.
“It is the month of Pitaji’s (dera head)birthday, so naam charcha happens every day in this month,” said Sukhwinder Kaur, a dera follower who had come from Bhaduar to Salabatpura Dera in Bathinda. Dera head had celebrated his birthday on August 15 inside the Sirsa dera by organising a satsang.
Apart from a canteen, dairy and area marked for agriculture, all deras have a large hall dedicated for kirtan, guru mantra simran and pravachan.
Guru mantra is given from Sirsa dera by the dera head himself. It is in Gurumukhi and the meaning of mantra is also told to the follower by the dera head himself, said the followers at Amanpura dera —- the largest Sacha Sauda dera in Mansa.
Naam charchas have been going on at these deras in Punjab for more than a decade. They were stopped altogether in 2007 last time during clashes between Sikhs and dera followers. Followers said that as dera head was not allowed to come to Punjab during the last 10 years, often his pravachans were shown on TV sets installed inside these Nam Charcha Ghars. On August 25, guru mantra simran started at about 11 am and it continued till 2.30 pm across many deras.