Temple architecture

War heroes, freedom fighters, Sikh activists: all share the space of the Golden Temple museum

From Sikh activists to war heroes and freedom fighters, all share space on the walls of the Central Sikh Museum in the Golden Temple here, which for more than six decades has been a major attraction for devotees and lover of Sikh history.

Created in 1958, it is installed on the first floor of the rooms located along the parikrama of the Golden Temple. It is divided into different sections based on Sikh history, each housing artifacts from the corresponding period.

The museum grabbed headlines after the portrait of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s killer, Dilawar Singh, was unveiled on Tuesday.

In the caption to the portrait, Dilawar Singh – a cop who joined the militant group Babbar Khalsa International and became a suicide bomber to assassinate the CM on August 31, 1995 – was described as the one “who achieved martyrdom by ending the ‘State atrocities’ The explosion at the secretariat complex in Chandigarh also killed 16 others.

SGPC Chairman Harjinder Singh Dhami said, “Dilawar Singh has brought an end to the atrocities and gross human rights abuses committed against Sikhs. The decision to sacrifice oneself is not possible without the blessings of the guru and whenever atrocities have been committed on the community, Sikhs have always made history by making sacrifices.

Real Gems: Artifacts

The museum’s collection is enriched with many ancient manuscripts, including one bearing the signature of Guru Hargobind in the form of a “mool mantra”.

It also houses the wooden comb of Sri Guru Gobind Singh, the kamar kasa (a cloth to be tied around the waist), the gatra (sword belt), the dumala’s chakar (turban ring) of Baba Deep Singh, the sword of Bhai Mehtab Singh which he used to behead Massa Rangarh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s kamar kasa sword which he used during the battle of Kasur, other historical weapons, small portraits, coins used during the Sikh reign and the ancient instruments of gurmat sangeet (Sikh music).

Tear gas shells used by the Punjab Police against the Akalis during the Punjabi Suba Movement in 1955 inside the shrine complex are also on display, in addition to long guns used by Sikh warriors in ancient times.

Portraits and paintings

The paintings on display which depict the glorious history of the Sikhs have been created by eminent artists including Sobha Singh, Kirpal Singh, Master Gurdit Singh, Thakur Singh, Bodh Raj, Amar Singh and Mehar Singh.

According to the director of the Golden Temple, Sulakhan Singh Bhangali, there are up to 700 portraits in the museum.

“These portraits depict the bravery of Sikhs, their tolerance, Sikh history, culture, traditions and their sacrifices made for the independence of the country. So the museum portrays the great Sikh story in the form of these images,” he said.

“To promote pictorial art, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Maharaja Sher Singh, Maharaja Dalip Singh have contributed. The art of painting also developed in the other Sikh states. Maharaja Narinder Singh Walia of Patiala Kalan was a keen observer of pictorial art and in his time (1846-1862) the art of painting was at its peak. Portraits of the Sikh Guru show the skills of artists of the time. Their colorful paintings are on display at the museum,” he added.

An essential room and its walls

On one side of the room, there are portraits of many Sikh activists in addition to that of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s bodyguards turned assassins, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh.

Portraits include those of militant Sikh preacher Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Amrik Singh and General Shabeg Singh, who were killed in Operation Bluestar, and Sukhdev Singh Sukha and Harjinder Singh Jinda, who assassinated General AS Vaidya to avenge the military action at the Golden Temple. . Congress and some other groups had opposed the installation of Bhindranwale’s portrait in the museum in 2007.

On the other sides there are portraits of Sikh war heroes including General Jagjit Singh Arora, Lieutenant General Harbaksh Singh, Indian Air Force Marshal Arjan Singh, General Bikram Singh.

Portraits of freedom fighters including Bhagat Singh, Kartar Singh Sarabha and Udham Singh are also on display at the museum. It also contains portraits of former SAD chairman Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, who was assassinated by militants.

“There is a committee of 8 members who decides on the installation of the portraits here. It is led by Akal Takht jathedar. He sends his recommendation to the SGPC executive committee, which makes the final decision on it,” said Mangal Singh, one of the staff working at the museum.

Limbo Museum Redesign Plan

In 2017, SGPC decided to revamp this museum. He had advertised to seek consultancy services from reputable international and national firms in the fields of museum planning, design, architecture and interiors. However, the project to give it a facelift is in limbo. In addition to the overhaul of the museum, the SGPC also worked on its expansion. Currently, the museum spans an area of ​​6,000 square feet. As part of the expansion project, the ground floor has also been merged with the museum, thus doubling the surface, but this new part is empty.


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Surjit Singh is a correspondent. It covers politics and agriculture, in addition to religious affairs and the Indo-Pakistan border in Amritsar and Tarn Taran.
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