Darbar Sahib – The Golden Temple Complex
The Golden Temple, also known as Darbar Sahib or Harmandir Sahib is a spectacular Sikh Gurudwara. It is situated in the city of Amritsar in Punjab. The Darbar Sahib was constructed as a central place of worship for the Sikhs and it is open to all people, irrespective of any caste, creed or religion. More than one lakh people come to pay homage in this holy gurudwara every day. The holy scripture, Guru Granth Sahib is kept in the temple at all times.
History of the temple
The fifth Sikh guru. Guru Arjan Dev, constructed it in the 16th century. In 1604, he also compiled and placed the Adi Granth, the holy book of Sikhs, in the Gurdwara People of all religions are welcome to visit and pay homage at Harmandir sahib. This is represented by its four entry points. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, with the help of other Sikhs, rebuilt the gurudwara in the year 1764 and gave it the look it has today. The upper floors of the gurudwara were covered with gold by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, when he captured Punjab in the nineteenth century.
Sri Harmandir Sahib derives its name from Hari (God) and it means the temple of hari or house of god. Guru Ram Das Ji, the fourth sikh guru, dug up a tank in the year 1577, and called it Amrut Sarovar, which later got the name – ‘Amritsar’ which means Pool of Nectar. The Darbar Sahib is built in the centre of this tank.
Construction of The Darbar
In 1574, when the gurudwara was first built, there was a small lake around it in a thin forest. The Great Mughal Emperor Akbar once visited the third Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das in a town called Goindval and he was impressed by the guru’s simplicity. He gifted a piece of land as a marriage gift to Guru Amar Das’s Daughter Bhani during her marriage to Bhai Jetha, who subsequently became the fourth guru of the Sikhs, Guru Ram Das. Guru Ram Das ji expanded the lake and built a township there. This town was called Ramdas Pur after the name of the Guru.
The complete Gurudwara was built under the guidance of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev. In 1588, Guru Arjan Dev laid down the foundation stone. Many people believe that a Sufi Saint of Lahore, Mian Mir laid the foundation stone.
The construction was finished in 1604 and Guru Arjan Dev placed the Adi Granth inside it. However it had to be rebuilt in the 1760s after it was attacked by Jahan Khan, who was a general of Ahmed Shah Abdali from Afghan. A sikh army also went to fight Jahan Khan’s army five miles outside Amritsar and defeated Jahan Khan’s troops.
The Beauty of the Temple
The entire structure is decorated with verses from the Adi Granth. The magnificent golden structure is also studied with beautiful precious stones which are arranged in floral patterns of Islamic style.It has white marble walls and copper cupolas. It is a wonder to look at the Darbar Sahib, a splendid construction surrounded by water.
This pool of sacred water – the Amrut Sarovar is believed to have lots of powers. One must take a walk around the pool – Parikrama in clockwise direction. The pathway which leads from the sarovar to the temple is called Guru’s bridge and is made of marble. It depicts the journey of one’s soul after death. The Darshani Deorhi, which is the path to the bridge has spectacular silver doors.
In the year 1984, the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi passed orders to mutilate some militants, who were believed to be hiding in Darbar Sahib. More than 500 people got killed and the temple suffered a lot of damage. Sikhs all over the world were enraged at this attack the holiest shrine. Mrs Gandhi was killed by her Sikh bodyguards, which lead to a massacre and many Sikhs were killed. The central government was debarred from repairing the temple, and the Sikhs took to the task on their own.
Rules of the Temple
There are some rules which one must follow in the gurudwara:
- Consuming alcohol, cigarette smoking and eating non-vegetarian food is prohibited.
- Footwear should be removed while entering the temple.
- Devotess must keep their head covered. (Scarves are also provided).
- Devotees must wash their feet before entering the temple.
The Famous Guru Ka Langar
The Guru-Ka-Langar is another highlight of the temple, where more than 35000 people are fed by volunteers free of charge. This is called sewa. Rich or poor, all devotees serve the food to the visitors. All devotees sit on the floor and enjoy the holy food.
The Palki Sahib
Palki Sahib is a ceremony that is carried out every night. The Adi Granth is carried in a procession along the bridge to the temple in the Akal Takht, the seat of Sikh Parliament. All male devotees participate in this procession actively.
A visit to the temple complex and a dip in Amrut Sarovar makes one blessed!