The Nihang Sikhs from Amritsar had entered the Sindhi Samaj Temple alleging that the Guru Granth Sahib was not being respected properly and demanded to remove idols from the temples if the Granth is to be kept.
On January 11, the members of the Sindhi community in Indore submitted over 80 Shri Guru Granth Sahib at Gurudwara Imli Sahib. The holy scriptures were placed in Sindhi temples for decades. The Sindhi community’s decision came as an aftermath of the altercation between Nihang Sikhs and members of the Sindhi community at a Sindhi Gurudwara in Indore. The Sindhi community took the decision after a group of Nihang Sikhs had demanded to remove idols from the temples where the Guru Granth Sahib is kept.
Senior members of the Sindhi community brought the Granth to the Gurdwara Imli Sahib at Jawahar Marg and handed over the same to the Gurdwara Management Committee with respect.
The matter started when a group of Nihang Sikhs from Amritsar visited the Sindhi Samaj temple on Annapurna Road in Indore, where the Guru Granth Sahib is also worshiped. The Nihang group expressed displeasure over the fact that their holy book was kept at a place where idols are worshipped and called it sacrilege of the holy book.
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The Nihang Sikh group even reached the police station, alleging that Guru Granth Sahib is being disrespected at the Sindhi temple. They claimed that when the Guru Granth Sahib is worshipped at a place, it becomes a Gurudwara, and therefore that place must follow rules applicable to Gurudwaras.
The Sindhi committee said that they are accepting the decision of the Nihang committee and will get Shri Guru Granth Sahib deposited at the Gurudwara by January 12. They said that there is no need to have a dispute with the Nihang Sikhs, and it is better to remove the Granth from Sindhi temples by the given deadline. Accordingly, they deposited the Granth at the Gurudwara on 11 January, a day before the deadline.
It is notable that the Sindhi community is keeping the Granth in their temples for a long time, and it has become a part of their ritual to worship the Granth. The reason for it goes back to several hundreds of years, when most of the Sindh community used to live in present-day Pakistan.
The Sindhi Hindus were greatly influenced by Guru Nanak’s teachings as he had visited the Sindh region and had spread his philosophy in the area. From that period onwards, Sindhi people had been following Guru Nanak and Guru Granth Sahib in their temples. They keep the Granth along with other Hindu scriptures in their temples.
In such temples, the Guru Granth Sahib is kept on one side of the temple, and the idols of all the deities are placed on the other side. However, they worship the Granth as per their own rituals along with other text like the Gita, and not according to Sikh rituals.
On December 18, 2022, a group of Nihang Sikhs of Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal Panjva Takht 96 Crori Chkarvarti visited a Sindhi Temple located in Parshwanath Colony, Indore Madhya Pradesh. A video of the day has been circulating on social media platforms. In the video, a woman recording it called out Nihangs for barging into the premises without permission. Nihang Sikhs, on the other hand, demanded that the regulations laid down in Sikhism to establish Shri Guru Granth Sahib’s Prakash be followed.
When Nihang Sikhs claimed they had the right to enter any Gurudwara, the lady questioned where it was written that it was a Sikh Gurudwara. Nihangs asked her to talk politely, to which the woman said she got agitated as Nihangs were recording a video.
Nihang said, “My King [Shri Guru Granth Sahib] has brought me here. Wherever Guru Granth Sahib is established, it automatically becomes a Gurudwara.” He added, “Every house, temple and other premises where there is Guru Granth Sahib is our home.”
When the woman asked his name, he said, “We are Nihang Fauj. We do not have personal names”. Then they identified themselves as Nihang Singh Fauj (Nihang Army) of Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal Panjva Takht 96 Crori Chkarvarti.
While the woman continued to ask their personal names, Nihang Singhs emphasised “Maryada” or “Dignity” not being maintained by Shri Guru Granth Sahib.
This was the point the matter got further heated, and one of the Nihangs tried to turn the woman’s mobile towards Granth Sahib, established at the premises. The woman called him out for touching her. The woman again questioned how they entered the Temple. Nihang pointed out Shri Guru Granth Sahib kept there was without Chandoa Sahib and Nishan Sahib. Chandoa Sahib is a canopy made of highly decorated cloth that covers Shri Guru Granth Sahib from the top. Nishan Sahib is the holy symbol of Sikhism.
The priest at the Temple intervened and tried to calm the woman and Nihang Singhs down. Nihang Singh said, “We have established our base here [in Indore]. We came to know that the Dignity of Guru Granth Sahib is not being followed here that is why we came. While the priest tried to stop them from talking to each other, Nihang Singh pointed out that they came only after they were informed that Dignity was not being followed. Notably, when Nihangs went to the Temple, the priest had already completed the rituals for the day. The lady pointed out that once the rituals are complete, they do not open the Holy Books [till the next day], which was echoed by the priest. However, Nihang Singh kept emphasizing looking at the Granth Sahib.
Nihang Singh then informed them of the process they had to follow to ensure respect for Guru Granth Sahib. Further in the video, it was decided that the priest would call them the next day and Nihangs would come again and explain everything in writing about keeping Shri Guru Granth Sahib at the Temple. Changes that they wanted the Temple to bring included increasing the height of Takht. In this particular conversation, there was no discussion about removing the idols.
As per reports and social media posts, the group of Nihang Singhs went to other Sindhi temples over the days. On December 19, they went to Poonam Didi Ka Gurudwara, located at 62 Extension, Rajmahal Colony Indore. A small clip available on social media shows that they took Shri Guru Granth Sahib away from that Temple.
In the video, a senior Nihang Singh allegedly told the Hindu Sindhis not to “practice Hindu rituals” and follow only one God.
‘It is heartbreaking said members of the Sindhi community
OpIndia reached out to members of the Sindhi community. Speaking to OpIndia, Prakash Rajdev, who was part of a 5-member committee of the Sindhi community, explained the matter. He said, “We, the members of the Sindhi community, have faith in Shri Guru Granth Sahib and worship Sikh Gurus. We have Guru Granth Sahib at Sindhi Thikanas (Thikana is Sindhi Temple) along with idols of Hindu Gods. When partition took place in 1947, members of the Sindhi community brought their Guru Granth Sahib with them safely. Around 30-35 per cent of Sindhis visit Thikanas and keep Path on celebrations and deaths. It has been going on for centuries.”
“We are a simple business community. We do not want any conflict with the Sikh community. We are brothers and do business together.
He then explained the altercation between the Sindhi community members and Nihang Sikhs on December 18. He said, “We learned about the matter from social media. We had a community meeting to decide what to do next. We also approached Sikh religious leaders to discuss it. They asked us to follow the procedure per the regulations to keep Shri Guru Granth Sahib at our temples. They asked us to remove the idols, establish Nishan Sahib, and follow the process.”
— SammySindhi (@SammySindhi) January 11, 2023
This is where the problem started. The religious leaders of the Sindhi community objected to the demand to remove idols from the temples. He said, “We told them we would maintain the Dignity but not remove the idols. It led to dissent between us. Then our religious leaders decided that we will submit all Guru Granth Sahib to Imli Sahib Gurudwara.”
He added that they did not want any conflict with Sikhs. He said, “We are a simple business community. We do not want any conflict with the Sikh community. We are brothers and do business together. You can understand what a tough situation was for us as armed Nihang Singhs confronted us. As there was no middle way, we decided to submit Guru Granth Sahib to Gurudwaras.”
Rajdev pointed out that the video clip circulated on social media does not give the full details of the situation. He said, “What is being circulated on social media and what happened are different. When we saw the full clip, there was no reason for conflict. It was clear that they wanted us to follow the rules, and we were more than happy to do so. The conflict happened when we were asked to remove the idols.”
“It is a heartbreaking situation for the members of the Sindhi community,” he added.
Speaking to OpIndia, Ravi Bhatia, Indore Head of Bharatiya Sindhu Sabha, said, “When the Nihang Sikhs came they said ‘remove these stones’. The Sindhi community members objected to how they said ‘Patthar hatao’ as they were idols of Bhagwan Ram and Bhagwan Krishna. It led to an altercation.” He added when they met the members of Guru Singh Sabha, they were told that the regulations were not being followed. He said, “We told them it might be possible that we are not maintaining Dignity. Tell us what to do, and we will.”
Bhatia said, “The talks were on, but the Nihangs moved ahead and submitted a memorandum to the local police that they will remove Guru Granth Sahib from our temples on January 12. We thought that as they gave us a request, it would be better to submit Guru Granth Sahib ourselves, and we submitted most of them on January 11.”
The Nihang Singh group that went to the Temple published several videos on social media. In a video published on January 9, Guru Granth Sahib from the first Temple was submitted in Gurudwara Imli Sahib, Indore.
Further social media posts and reports suggest that the remaining Guru Granth Sahib were submitted on January 11, and around 12 remaining were submitted on January 12, as told by the members of the Sindhi community.
‘They can take Guru Granth Sahib Back’
Speaking to OpIndia, Jasbir Singh Gandhi, Chief Secretary, Shri Guru Singh Sabha, said, “We do not have any conflict with the Sindhi community. Gurbani is for everyone, irrespective of religion. The only thing is they must follow the regulations to keep Guru Granth Sahib. Once they follow the instructions and make arrangements as informed by the Sikh community, they are free to take back Guru Granth Sahib from the Gurudwara.”
Nihang Sikhs reacted to social media outrage
After the social media outrage over the matter, Nihang Sikhs released a video statement. Paramjeet Singh, Jathedar, Budha Dal, Ludhiana, said, “We got information from Indore that a Sindhi family has kept Shri Guru Granth Sahib in a temple at their home, but they were not maintaining Dignity as per the norms. We sent members of Budha Dal Indore to check. They found many discrepancies at the Temple. The main issue was the seat of the head of the house was above Guru Granth Sahib, which hurt us. When we talked to the leaders of the Sindhi community, they also agreed that Guru Sahib should have the highest seat. The Sindhi community have a lot of faith in Guru Bani, and we understand their sentiments. Now, Guru Granth Sahib has reached Gurudwara. There is no reason to further the matter.”
He further added if anyone wants to keep Guru Granth Sahib at home, he or she should do it only if they or can maintain Dignity; otherwise, it must be avoided. “If they can maintain the Dignity of Shri Guru Granth Sahib, they can take them back,” he added. However, he pointed out that the members of Buddha Dal and Shri Guru Singh Sabha will ensure everything is as per the regulation before letting them take Guru Granth Sahib back. “Let’s not make it a matter of Hindu-Sikh. All religions are equal. Guru Sahib sacrificed their lives for everyone.” He then requested the members of the Sikh community to maintain peace.
Courtesy: OpIndia (Published on January 12, 2023)