Caretakers endanger priceless Sikh relics

The National Institute of Punjab Studies(NIPS) , established to promote cultural heritage of Punjab, has endeavoured to document the endangered relics to create awareness among the heritage-lovers and common man . Mr Mohinder Singh of NIPS and Bhai Vir Singh Sadan, Amritsar, visited Pakistan and far-flung areas, including Lahore, England , Takht Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib, to procure rare pictures, pertaining to Sikhism. The NIPS has already brought out eight illustrated books in two years with photographs of rare relics of the Sikh Gurus, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and other historical personalities collected from different repositories in India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

Talking to TNS here yesterday, Mr Mohinder Singh said the documentary would be shown to the Prime Minister and heritage-lovers. He said Takht Patna Sahib had the richest collection of Guru Granth Sahib birs and hukamnamas but not much attention had been paid to their conservation. A casual visitor is shocked to see the historic ‘pangura’ of Gobind Rai which has lost its original shape. Its jute strings have been replaced by plastic strips while four pegs have been covered with gold. Thus, the facelift puts visitors in doubt whether Guru Gobind Singh actually used it during his childhood. At the Takht we find the robe of Gobind Rai which has been framed in a box. He said the caretakers had compromised with the value of the relics. Similarly, the golden ‘kharavan’ (the traditional wooden shoes) of Guru Teg Bahadur have been covered with gold without being treated by conservation experts. Mr Mohinder Singh said his NGO would attempt to engage heritage experts to preserve the relics in their original design.

The robe of the sixth Guru with the Sanga family of Drolli Bhai Ki is kept in a plastic poly bag. It needs to be carefully treated by INTACH or some other professional agency. The team found that the robes of Guru Gobind Singh and clothes of Mata Sahib Kaur with the family of Bhai Dhalla, are kept in poly bags and are being affected by moisture created by use of a cooler in the display room. The robe of Guru Nanak, perhaps the only available relic of the founder of Sikh faith with the Bedi family in Dera Baba Nanak kept in a showcase, is getting affected by moisture.

He further said that a rare Guru Granth Sahib bir and weapons of the sixth and ninth Gurus with the Bagrian family need urgent conservation. Mr Mohinder Singh claims that the only relics which have been professionally conserved and taken care of are relics of Guru Gobind Singh in the collection of Capt Amarinder Singh in the New Moti Bagh Palace, Patiala. The team collected rare relics of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his family found in the Princess Bamba collection in the Lahore Fort Museum.

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