DELHI India -- More than half
a million Sikhs converged at Patna, the capital of India’s
Bihar state, on 6 January 2017 to celebrate the 350th
birthday of Guru Govind Singh Ji, the tenth guru of the
Sikhs, writes Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.
The famous Takht Sri Patna Sahib Gurudwara, also known as
Harmandir Sahib, is the birthplace of the great guru and the
second most important Sikh shrine.
Patna Sahib is considered to be the second most important
Takhat (holy throne) after the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Gobind Rai Sodhi was born to the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru
Tegh Bahadur, and Mata Gujri on 22 December 1666, at this
site in Patna.
He was anointed Guru Gobind Singh Ji as the supreme
leader of Sikhs when he was nine years old, becoming the
tenth and the last of the Sikh Gurus.
On the site of the house at Patna in which Gobind Rai was
born and where he spent his early childhood now stands a
sacred shrine, Takht Sri Harimandar Sahib.
In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, formed the Khalsa, by
choosing the five Pyaras (beloved ones) from different
castes, different locations and different vocations.
This act reinforces the Guru’s much needed vision of
creating a unity amongst all peoples beyond caste, vocation
Guru Gobind Singh Ji promoted ‘Sarbat da Bhalla’ (the
good and welfare of all) and championed universal solidarity
by proclaiming that the whole human race as one family.
Thousands of Sikh NRIs from UK, USA, Canada, Australia,
Italy, Germany, France, Malaysia, Thailand and many other
countries celebrated 350 birthday of Guru Govind Singh Ji in
Patna, Bihar, India in January 2017.
Many NRIs were professionals and felt lucky to be part of
this historic event addressed by India’s Prime Minister,
Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kuamr and Punjab Chief
Minister Prakash Singh Badal, among other dignitaries.
One of biggest groups of 350 Sikhs was from UK-based Guru
Nanak Nishkam Sevak Jatha including g 60 women.
Most NRIs enthusiastically served as volunteers during
the mega celebrations and felt blessed at this opportunity.
Jaipal Kaur and Kiran Kaur, both NRIs from the United
Kingdom, said they were quite happy and considered
themselves fortunate to serve as ‘sevadars’ or volunteers at
the ‘langar’ (community kitchens) at Takht Sri Harimandir Ji
Patna Sahib, about 10 km from state capital Patna, during
the celebration of the ‘Prakash Utsav’ or birth anniversary,
according to IANS.
"This is the first time I am visiting the birthplace of
"I consider myself lucky to do service at the ‘langar’,"
said Jaipal, a consultant with IBM in the UK.
"Kiran, settled in the United Kingdom, said nearly 150
NRI Sikh women from that country were serving as ‘sevadars’
to take care of the dietary needs of the devotees.
"I am really the lucky one to get to perform ‘seva’.
"My life has got some meaning now," Kiran said in the
"We have taken leave from our respective offices to spend
nearly two weeks here to serve the devotees," she added.
Mandip Singh from Canada said he was serving at a
‘langar’ in the tented city near here for the last three
"It is a matter of immense satisfaction for me.
"I will continue to serve at the community kitchen till
Surjit Singh from California pointed out that community
service was an essential part of the Sikh religion.
"I can say no more than that I feel privileged to work as
a ‘sevadar’ here," Surjit said.
Makhan Singh from New York said:
"It is a rare privilege to serve at the Patna Sahib
"There is no work bigger than this to offer your services
at the community kitchen here."
Baba Maan Singh, based in Birmingham in the UK, said most
NRI devotees were well aware that it was an
"NRI devotees are helping with cooking, cleaning
utensils, mopping floors and serving food to the devotees,"
"It is a matter of pride for us that we got a chance to
attend the ‘Prakash Utsav’ and work as ‘sevadars’,"
London-based Omkar Singh said in an interview with IANS.
These NRI devotees were all praise for Bihar chief
minister Nitish Kumar for making the celebrations a mega
"I never imagined that such amazing arrangements will be
made for the celebrations in Patna and the Patna Sahib
Gurdwara," US-based Gurcharan Singh said.
About 350 members, including 60 women from UK-based Guru
Nanak Nishkam Sevak Jatha led by Bhai Mohinder Singh
Ahulwalia, have also arrived here to offer voluntary service
at different community kitchens.
"It is a big moment for all of us," said Parbinder Singh,
one of the members of the UK-based Guru Nanak Nishkam Sevak
Jatha led by Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahulwalia.
The main function of special prayers and ‘kirtan’
(singing of hymns set to music) was held on January 5, in
which Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Punjab chief minister
Parkash Singh Badal and a large number of Sikh dignitaries
from India and abroad took part.
India declared a public holiday on 6 January and all Sikh
temples across the world and in India were decorated and
crowded with devotees.
The Bihar government went all out to welcome devotees
from all over India and many other countries.
The capital city was spruced up, roads widened; three
massive tent cities built, a nearby railway station
reopened, renovated and illuminated the holy shrines and
declared three public holidays from 3 to 5 January for an
international conclave and continue until 8 January.
Over 300 CCTV cameras installed at critical locations for
Tourist information centres set up.
Billed as the biggest and the grandest event organized by
the government of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the event was
attended by Prime Minister Modi.
More than 300 special buses and 10 special trains
transported devotees to Patna from Punjab and elsewhere.
Besides the tent cities, visitors were offered free
accommodation at schools and hotels. Nine ‘langars’ serving
free meals, spread over different locations, were serving
about 300,000 believers every day and 10,000 volunteers
landed in Patna to help in the distribution of food at these
All these celebrations will focus on the dynamic saint
soldier and his legacy of Khalsa, the pure ones.
Khalsa is the name given by Guru Gobind Singh ji to all
Sikhs who have been initiated by taking Amrit and have to
live by Five Ks:
• Kesh – uncut hair to represent the natural appearance
Kanga – a small comb.
• Kaccha – warrior short trousers, also denotes chastity.
• Kara – steel bangle as a sign of restraint and bondage,
and a symbol of dedication to the Guru.