Sharp reactions force SGPC to reconsider ACs in Golden Temple

“We are concerned that the heritage and serenity of the Darbar Sahib remains intact. No action will be taken in haste and we will ponder over the issue at the next SGPC meet scheduled at Chandigarh on May 3,” said SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh. He admitted that the technicalities of the installation have also to be studied and the feelings and aspirations of the sangat would be kept in mind before some final decision is taken.

Various SGPC members, including Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, Manjit Singh Calcutta and well known conservationist Gurmit Rai, besides Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), have spoken up against setting up air conditioners. “It is contrary to religious feelings,” said INTACH state convenor Dr Sukhdev Singh, adding that they would oppose the move as it would harm the heritage value and paintings on the walls. Harkamaljit Singh an INTACH member added that installation of ACs may cause electrical accidents.

On the other hand, some intellectuals feel that when electricity was installed at the sanctum sanctorum in 1920, similar reactions were aired. “People said lanterns and ghee diyas were more natural and electric bulbs would mar the religious aroma around the gurdwara. The time would soon come when all would approve the ACs,” said a Sikh scholar at GNDU, requesting anonymity. He, however, added that the heritage and unique architecture of the Golden Temple should not be spoiled.

The SGPC, meanwhile, has the support of the Akal Takht as well, as Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti has approved the ACs and an ultra-modern sound system for gurbani to be aired without disturbance and with precision and clarity.

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