Ifs & buts of gilding the Golden Temple

The work of gilding in progress at the Golden Temple despite opposition by some experts. ‘ Photo Rajiv Sharma

‘It is laudable that during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s reign such a remarkable structure was established making the Golden Temple perhaps one of the t outstanding buildings in the world. Nevertheless the construction techniques and material used were by no means as sophisticated as what are now available in the West.
For example, there was no screw technology available at the time and the copper plates had to be mounted by hand-made nails, which were anchored in lead and blocks of timber. In contrast, the jathas’ ability to marshal the latest tools and technology, given the fact that it is located in the UK, has meant that every technological aid has been made available for this project.

The newly gilded plates have not only been screwed but all the harmful lead removed from the site. This has meant that the end product is vastly superior and will be able to withstand the elements much longer’.

In recent times the jatha has received adverse publicity from a small section of the Press which has claimed that it has not been aware of the rich heritage contained in the Golden Temple complex and that important Sikh paintings and historical works have been spoiled during renovations. While the jatha does not intend to refute every minor claim which in many cases is motivated by malice, it is important to broadly recognise that the jatha did not abandon the conservation work merely in the interest of development.

Dr Rajiv Khanna, an eminent restoration-conservation expert engaged by the jatha, has claimed that all the material testing of the Golden Temple was being got done by accredited agencies in foreign countries. At the preliminary stage, the efforts of the experts will be to establish details of historical developments of the art work.

‘It will be our effort to register as to why the art work got damaged so that it should not further decay after the restoration is done,’ Dr Khanna says and adds that he will also try to identify the ‘man-made’ damage too. He claims that while carrying out ‘patch work’ of the art work in the past much damage had already been done which needed to be eliminated. The jatha would resort to restrictive interference and any ‘overdose won’t be allowed’ so that the great art should not get damaged.

Bhai Inderjit Singh and Bhai Mehnga Singh of the jatha said that the jatha was open to the suggestions of experts. They said that the kar seva would be completed as per the wishes of the Sikh Panth. They said documentation of the pattern of art work would be done before fianalising the work. The jatha said that after seeking clearance from the Sikh sangat it would proceed to complete the seva.

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