रविवार, जनवरी 19, 2020

गुरुद्वारा श्री पौंटा साहिब की यात्रा

Paonta Sahib: (Sirmour, Himachal Pradesh)
I make a pilgrimage to the Paonta Sahib at Sirmour District and visit the Langar that serves food free to some 2,000 to 5,000 visitors every day. Paonta Sahib, a city sacred to the memory of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. It retains tangible memorials to the martial Guru in the form of his weapons and a majestic Gurudwara and recalls his presence even in the name of the city which derived from "Paon" meaning "foot" either because he set foot in this place or according to an alternative story because he lost an ornament which he wore on his foot called a "Paonta" while bathing in the river Yamuna which flows here.

Overlooking the river is the Gurudwara where Guru Gobind Singh held court and wrote the significant portion of the "Dassam Granth". The Guru also built the Paonta Fort in over hundred acres of land, which housed not only his followers but as many as 46 famous poets. Regular poetry reading sessions and symposiums organised to encourage the sort form. The guru left Paonta Sahib after the battle of Bhangani with Raja Fateh Shah, in which he defeated the errant ruler's army after thirty days of fighting. It has been a source of inspiration to the community and a place of pilgrimage, ever since its establishment in the 16th century.

I made my entry for the Sangat, the holy congregation then came out and headed for Guru Gobind Singh Langar for the Pangat, the sitting for food. At the Poanta Sahib, there is no such thing as lunch hour and dinner hour. It's always mealtime here. Everywhere I looked, people energetically occupied in some form of cooking — the leading enterprise being making Rotis (Bread).

Women sat on the floor and rolled out Rotis (Bread) and tossed them onto big, flat hotplates (Loh) that were fired from beneath by gas pipes. Men did roasting the Rotis (Bread). With long, hooked rods, expertly flipping the Rotis (Bread) over one by one, and then scooping them off the hotplates and into baskets kept by the side. Other men picked up these baskets and rushed out to the eating area where at a time, hundreds of visitors to the Paonta Sahib sit and eat together. In the Paonta Sahib Langar started by Guru Gobind Singh. It is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and it is open to everybody, devotee, tourist, and curiosity-seeker. Anybody can have a meal there free of charge. Surjeet Singh, a burly Sikh who looks after the kitchen, told me that the Langar had only three professional cooks. Everybody else was a volunteer. They were devotees who spared some time from their obligations and sat and rolled out Rotis (Bread) or cooked the dal and sabzi for the day. No, they didn't get paid! It was service to God.

Sh. Hardev Singh said: Preparing the Langar on LPG stove, if there was a festival then we used (Bhatti) furnaces. Nowadays, thousands of people have come because of these Yatra (5) day. He uses to go to Gurdwara for 20 years. Near the Gurudwara, a temple has been building by the Government funds, government-provided Rs. 80 Lakh.

Surjeet Singh informed me that the vegetables, flour, ghee, lentils and other ingredients were bought from local contractors in Paonta and stored at the Gurudwara. On the Tea Langar have minimum Expenditure of a day 2 kg Tea, 100 Kg Sugar and milk depend on Sangat. Self-service of the tea, Surjeet Singh told if we are do serve the tea then we want to some Sewadar for tea, now one is enough.

Surjeet Singh told me " ek din me 4 bori chawal ki, aur 70 kg besan ki kaddi, 4-5 bori atta, dal 200kg, hari sabjee 100 kg, 80kg Chane(Chhole), alloo, payaj, etc."

I ask Surjeet Singh: Who came to eat? Surjeet Singh says " Kishi noo mana hi Nahi hai." " Kishi noo jabab nahi" (There is no discrimination for eating Langar) "Langar chalada rahana chahiye" (Langar should continue for the lifelog) " koi Garib Gurdware aye us de pait vich achchha bhojan jaye".

Manager of the Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee Paonta Sahib Shri Kulwant Singh Chaudhry said "ek din ka kharacha kam-se-kam dash hazar ke aash-pash aa jata hai, Sanagat ke hisab se badh jata hai". "Langar ke liye kuchh paisa to Gurdwara se hi aa jata hai aur kuchh, fasal ke samay farmers se anaj ikattha kar lete hai.

Which I thought, it was pretty amazing, because, on an average, the Langar fed 3,000 people every day, and on Sundays and festive occasions, the figure went up to 15,000 and even 30,000. Paonta Sahib distinguished by its association with the Sikhs and attracts them by the thousands at the spring festivals of 'Baisakhi' and 'Holi'.

I collect a plate and glass/bowl and take my place in one of the large halls. Volunteers rush up and down the rows of seated people serving the dal-sabzi-roti-kheer/chawal meal out aluminium buckets and cane baskets. Tea, everyone collects the bowl and take tea, and this is the self-service. "If we have served to tea then we want an another Sevadar," Surjeet Singh told me. Instead, the devotee and the visitor, the beggar and millionaire, all walked in great discipline to where facilities were available for each one to wash his or her plate. You didn't want to do that, no problem, there was a relay of volunteers standing information to convey the dirty dishes to the wash area. You washed your hands, had a glass of crystal clear, purified water, and then made your way out. "In Paonta, nobody goes to sleep hungry." The Langar included free boarding, lodging and, where possible, first aid as well.

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