Do not touch beris in Golden Temple complex

In fact the preservation project for the three trees was launched way back in 1990. The PAU has appealed to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Golden Temple manager to take steps to prevent devotees from touching the trees as their hands are normally smugged with 'ghee' after having 'prasad'.

The team found the lac insect attack was very noticable on Beri Baba Buddha Sahib, as devotees after taking 'parsad' from the Harimandir Sahib, the sanctum sanctorum, pay obeisance at the Beri before moving out of the shrine through the Clock Tower entrance.

Normally devotees pay obeisance at Dukh Bhanjani Beri and Elachi Beri before partaking 'parsad' from the sanctum sanctorum.

Beri Baba Buddha Sahib is the place where Baba Buddhaji used to sit while supervising the construction work of the Harmandir Sahib and the 'sarowar'. He later became the first Head Priest of the shrine.

According to Dr Bal normally the life of a beri is 100 years but these two have survived for over 400 years. However in recent years due to fungal attack and attacks from lac insect and caterpillar their growth has been hampered and there are indications of the trees decaying and infested branches drying up.

The team also found that the trees were suffering from a disease called powdery mildew.

During their visit to the shrine, the PAU team cut the infested branches of the three trees where it noticed that the lac or caterpillar attacks were intense. The team also restored to pruning as according to Dr Bal, July is the best month for ''new growth''. In fact the team asked the SGPC to get the trees pruned every year in the month of May.

Dr Bal said ''we pruned the trees in a religious manner and we found that devotes at the shrine collected the pruned leaves and cut the infested branches and took these home''. He stated that ever since the PAU took upon itself the task of 'saving' the trees, the beris began to bear fruit (ber) and all the three are 'healthy'.

The SGPC has assured the team that some sort of barricades would be erected around the three trees to prevent devotees from touching the beris. The Golden Temple management has also agreed to put up sign boards asking devotees not to touch the trees.

Dr Bal has suggested that in July the trees should be sprayed with Thiodan an in the fourth week of September, Balytan powder could be used on the beris. In the monsoon months, fungal and insect attacks are t pronounced, he added.

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