Half a Million Sikhs in Patna
Over Half a Million Sikhs Converge in Patna
Mega Birthday Celebrations of Sikh Guru Gobind Singh Ji
By Kul Bhushan Photos Amit Kumar
More than half a million Sikhs are expected to converge at Patna, the capital of India’s Bihar state, on 6 January 2017 to celebrate the 350th birthday of Guru Govind Singh Ji, the tenth guru of the Sikhs. The famous Takht Sri Patna Sahib Gurudwara, also known as Harmandir Sahib, is the birthplace of the great guru and the second most important Sikh shrine. Patna Sahib is considered to be the second most important Takhat (holy throne) after the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Gobind Rai Sodhi was born to the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, and Mata Gujri on 22 December 1666, at this site in Patna. He was anointed Guru Gobind Singh Ji as the supreme leader of Sikhs when he was nine years old, becoming the tenth and the last of the Sikh Gurus. On the site of the house at Patna in which Gobind Rai was born and where he spent his early childhood now stands a sacred shrine, Takht Sri Harimandar Sahib.
In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, formed the Khalsa, by choosing the five Pyaras (beloved ones) from different castes, different locations and different vocations. This act reinforces the Guru’s much needed vision of creating a unity amongst all peoples beyond caste, vocation and ethnicity.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji promoted ‘Sarbat da Bhalla’ (the good and welfare of all) and championed universal solidarity by proclaiming that the whole human race as one family.
The Bihar government has gone all out to welcome devotees from all over India and the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and many other countries. The capital city has been spruced up, roads widened; three massive tent cities built, reopened a nearby railway station, renovated and illuminated the holy shrines and declared three public holidays from 3 to 5 January for an international conclave and continue until 8 January. Over 300 CCTV cameras have been installed at critical locations for security. Tourist information centres have been set up. Billed as the biggest and the grandest event organized by the government of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the event will be attended by Prime Minister Modi.
More than 300 special buses and 10 special trains will carry devotees to Patna from Punjab and elsewhere. Besides the tent cities, visitors have been offered free accommodation at schools and hotels. Nine ‘langars’ serving free meals, spread over different locations, are already serving about 300,000 believers every day and 10,000 volunteers have landed in Patna to help in the distribution of food at these locations.
All these celebrations will focus on the dynamic saint soldier and his legacy of Khalsa, the pure ones. Khalsa is the name given by Guru Gobind Singh ji to all Sikhs who have been initiated by taking Amrit and have to live by Five Ks:
1. Kesh – uncut hair to represent the natural appearance of sainthood. Kanga – a small comb.
2. Kaccha – warrior short trousers, also denotes chastity.
3. Kara – steel bangle as a sign of restraint and bondage, and a symbol of dedication to the Guru. Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed that by wearing Kara all fears will be removed.
4. Kirpan – a sword for defence, a symbol of dignity, power and courage.
A Khalsa is to lead his life according to the Guru’s teaching and treat everyone as equal without considerations of caste, profession or religion.
The Guru’s spirit lives in Guru Granth Sahib or the holy book and the Khalsa.
Pictures of Patna Sahib Gurudwara and Tent City Patna -