September 2, 2004
Four hundred years ago, the Guru compiled the canonical work. A hundred years after that, the canon itself received the status of the Guru. Today, Guru Maneyo Granth was the chant that rent the air as millions of devotees converged at Amritsar to join in the Parkash Utsav celebrations.
By one estimate, nearly two to two-and-a-half million devotees thronged the city, filing past the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple. Crowds waited for hours for their turn to offer prayers. Jathas chanted gurbani, braving the heat to participate in the rituals.
Security personnel outside and SGPC task force inside the Golden Temple Complex had a harrowing time controlling the crowds as barricades were repeatedly uprooted.
With the President and Prime Minister calling in for two consecutive days, the city was in the national media gaze, attracting hordes of mediapersons and camera crews. Volunteers doing the seva were never short — be it for taking care of shoes, serving water, cleaning utensils or serving langar.
As the Golden Temple’s image gleamed in the sarovar’s waters, hundreds of devotees sat all around in the parikarma verandahs with gutkas in hands, chanting hymns. Despite the presence of such a huge crowd, no untoward incident was reported even though more than 500 cases of missing persons were reported at the Tourism Police booth.
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