‘Sacrilege’ in Gurdwara by wild bears irks Akal Takht

The Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs, is faced with a Himalayan challenge — how to stop wild bears from entering the Hemkund Sahib Gurdwara in Uttarakhand.

The gurdwara, situated at a height of 15,200 feet, is closed during winters and remains cut off for 5-6 months every year due to heavy snowfall giving wild animals an opportunity to make the abandoned place of worship their home in the shivering cold. Expressing anguish, the Takht has termed it as “an act of sacrilege” and summoned a meeting this week to discuss the problem.

The Takht has also asked Hemkund Sahib Gurdwara management for an explanation. Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh told TOI that the trust has been asked to clarify if any damage has been done to Sri Guru Granth Sahib or other religious books [scriptures] by the bears in the gurdwara.

The jathedar said that sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib wouldn’t be tolerated at any cost and if the management of the trust was found to be guilty of negligence it would be summoned at Akal Takht.

“We have been getting complaints of the sacrilege of Gurdwara Hemkund Sahib during winters. It has become a big problem and needs to be tackled with,” said Singh. “We have come to know that wild bears enter the Gurdwara building, remain there for nearly six months and also give birth to cubs. It happens due to the negligence of the gurdwara management,” said Singh.

He said the issue would be deliberated during the meeting of five Sikh high priests scheduled to be held on July 12 and if required a sub-committee would be constituted that would visit the Gurdwara to collect first-hand information so as to take required steps to prevent the entry of bears in future.

According to the autobiographical account of the tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh, Bachitra Natak, it was at the Hemkund ‘adorned with seven snow peaks’ that he meditated in his previous birth. Black Asiatic bears and brown bears are found in these areas of the Himalayas.



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