Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Golden Care: UK Jatha Begins Cleaning Sacred Golden Temple

by Parminder Singh Sodhi

In a heartwarming display of devotion and dedication, a team of volunteers from the UK has undertaken the noble task of preserving the gleaming facade of the revered Golden Temple in Amritsar. With meticulous care and a commitment to tradition, they are employing natural methods to cleanse the gold-plated domes, ensuring the sanctity and splendor of this iconic Sikh shrine endure.

Led by Mohinder Singh, the head of Birmingham-based Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, this selfless group initiated their service nearly twenty-five years ago. Their annual pilgrimage to the Golden Temple involves the meticulous cleaning of its gold domes and sheets, a task undertaken without charge, solely out of reverence for this sacred site.

Bhagwant Singh Dhankhera, the manager of the Golden Temple, attests to the invaluable contribution of this team, emphasizing the necessity of their efforts in combating the effects of pollution on the temple’s exterior. Over fifty members diligently engage in the cleansing process, employing a natural concoction of ‘reetha’ (soap nut) and lemon juice, eschewing chemical agents for a gentler, more sustainable approach.

The painstaking process involves boiling ‘reetha’ powder in water for several hours, followed by the addition of lemon juice and allowing the mixture to cool. This natural soap solution is then used to delicately cleanse the gold-plated surfaces, restoring their original luster. Not content with mere cleaning, the volunteers also undertake repair work on the gold plating wherever necessary, ensuring every inch of the temple’s exterior is immaculate.

In their reverence for the sanctity of the shrine, the volunteers exercise utmost care and respect during their ‘sewa’ (selfless service). Their dedication is particularly poignant considering the historical significance of the Golden Temple’s gilded exterior. The gold plates, dating back to the era of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, stood for over 150 years before being replaced in 1999, marking the culmination of a painstaking gilding process that commenced in 1995.

The same jatha, which now diligently preserves the temple’s exterior, was among the organizations that generously volunteered to contribute to the ‘kar sewa’ (voluntary service) involved in the replacement of the gold plates in 1999. Their ongoing commitment is a testament to the enduring spirit of community service and devotion that characterizes Sikh tradition.

As they embark on another round of cleansing and restoration, the volunteers from the UK embody the timeless values of selflessness and dedication, ensuring that the Golden Temple continues to shine as a beacon of spiritual solace and architectural splendor for generations to come.

Parminder Singh Sodhi

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