SGPC Chief keen on Sikh Heritage conservation

ASProf Anurag Singh apppointed head of a new Heritage research board.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has embarked on an ambitious plan to conserve and trace the history of Sikhs from the first Sikh Guru onwards.

The SGPC has set up a Heritage Conservation Board and a History and Research Board, with SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar heading the first body and a manager with Punjab and Sind Bank, Anurag Singh, heading the second one.

Makkar said that the Heritage Board would take up all sites of Sikh history and conserve them, while the History and Research Board would work on tracing and studying Sikh history.

Makkar said, “Funds would not be problem for any of the two Boards, as both the tasks of conserving Sikh historical sites and tracing Sikh history are of utt importance to the SGPC.”

He added that among the immediate tasks before the Heritage Board is to preserve and re-construct the Dewan Todar Mal Haveli in Fatehgarh Sahib, which was recently taken over by the SGPC.
“We have involved a number of conservationists, including those from Punjab government and INTACH, besides others from elsewhere in the country, who will help SGPC design the Todar Mal Haveli in Fatehgarh.

The haveli is an important heritage building for the Sikhs and would be preserved in its original form,” he said, adding that while initially the plan is to conserve the existing building, plans are also afoot to reconstruct the demolished portion of the Haveli.

The heritage building was sold to a private Trust in September 2003 for a paltry sum and the building was transferred in the name of the Punjab Charitable Trust, a Mohali-based registered body. However, it was after a lot of hue and cry raised by Sikh religious bodies that the Trust was forced to hand over the Haveli to the SGPC.

Dewan Todar Mal holds an important position in Sikh history by virtue of him having performed the last rites of younger sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh – Baba Zorawar Singh (9) and Baba Fateh Singh (7) — who were entombed alive by the Mughals for not embracing Islam, and Mata Gujri, who had died of shock. The Dewan had paid about one lakh gold coins to buy the piece of land to cremate the Sikh martyrs, as he was asked to vertically place gold coins on the land and only that much land was given to him which he could cover with gold coins. Gurdwara Joytisaroop was later built on the land.

The SGPC chief added that work on conservation of Banga Ramgharia and Baba Atal, both in Amritsar, is also on with the help of top Sikh scholars and conservationists.

Editors Note: Prof Anurag Singh has a personal library of Sikh artefacts and rare Sikh Granths. These were collected by his late father Dr Trilochan Singh researcher and author. SGPC Chief Avtar Makkar stated on the 23rd May that approval of Rs 3 lakh was given for setting up a digital system for the Sikh History Research Board. A sub committee comprising former SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar, Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Anurag Singh had been constituted for this purpose so that all rare manuscripts could be saved.

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