Crowds pour in and out of the inner part of the Golden Temple, or <i> Harmandir Sahib</i> in Amritsar, Punjab.
Dedicated to Raminder Pal Singh, whose inspiring work of the Golden Temple (along with Captain Suresh Sharma’s work) inspired me to see one of the lands my ancestors came from – The Punjab.
<b> More Information…</b>
The Harmandar Sahib (originally called the Hari Mandir, or ‘temple of God’) is also known as the Golden Temple. It is the holiest of Sikh Gurudwaras (or places of worship) and many thousands of Sikh and non Sikh devotees and tourists visit every year to witness this fantastic sight and spiritual haven.
Located in the older part of Amritsar city, this temple was originally the site of a small lake in a forest. In 1574, the Mughal Emporor, Akbar visited the third Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das in a nearby village. He was so impressed by what he saw there, that he gifted a sum of money to the Guru’s daughter (who later married a man who became the fourth Guru, Guru Ram Das). This money was used to enlarge the lake and build a small township.
Under the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev, that the temple was built. A great Sufi (Muslim mystic, popular in this time in South Asia) friend of the guru from Lahore (former capital of undivided Punjab, now the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab state) visited and laid the foundation stone in 1588. It was completed in 1601. Later it would be attacked by the Afghans, requiring rebuilding in the 1760s.
The temple has four enterances, which signifies the importance of acceptance and openness. All may enter the Harimandir Sahib, regardless of who they are – though they must abstain from meat, drinking alcohol, entering intoxicated, smoking or use drugs while inside (as with all Sikh temples).
The temple was also the site of Operation Blue Star, in 1984, which resulted in a very sorrowful time in the history of the people of Punjab and Delhi, regardless of race or religion, though it was the Sikhs who suffered more.
It was at this time that Sikhs in Delhi were at high risk. My maternal Grandfather took a neighbouring Sikh family into his house to help ensure their safety, and they remain friends since.