Updated: Mar 17, 2019
I was born in the holy city of Amritsar and possibly brought inside the golden temple when I was just few days old. This temple is thus very close to my heart and feels like second home. My parents are sikh and have immense faith on the biggest pilgrimage place for the religion - the Golden temple.
This account is not just behind the scenes of my photographs , but a little beyond that.
I have witnessed this temple evolve to the current state . Only few years back , the temple was surrounded by narrow , congested old roads, havelis, alleys and charming little shops .Over the years and with the ever increasing number of pilgrims, the reconstruction of the road leading upto the temple has made the navigation easier. These old spots have disappeared and unless one meanders into the main city, you may not be able to say, how many years and battles this sacred place has seen.
One can go inside the golden temple from any of the four sides, a feature unique to the Gurudwara. Much before I can take steps towards the inside hallway, I can hear the music of the shabad ( hymns) . Traditionally believers walk around the hallway and pay homage at the many shrines within the Darbar sahab. On the many visits that I have made , i like to rest against the cool of the marble and listen to the shabad echoing, and feel the palpable larger force.
One of my favorite pictures from the temple is one that I clicked many years ago against the sarovar. A mother , sharing the stories of bravery, resilience and principles of sikh gurus with her young children . It brings back many memories I have around this place.
The marble causeway leading inside the golden temple shrine is crowded with a que of pilgirms wanting a glimpse of Babaji , as we call the Granth in Sikhism. The inner sanctum is dome shaped building covered in gold foil that glimmers against the shinning sun and glows in moonlight. Prayers are offered in the shrine. Covering of the head is mandatory at all times. After praying at the main temple it is required to exit counterclockwise . I cannot help but marvel time and again at the architecture and the beauty of this place. No matter how many times I come to this place, the solace and peace this place provides is profound .
Many believe that taking a dip into the holy water of Amrit Sarovar helps purifying one's karma. At another point near Dukh Bhanjani Ber, a jujube tree , stands a small gurudwara . It is believed that at this point, a sikh was cured of his leprosy. The belief is so strong that the tree is called 'suffering remover'. It is not uncommon to see many moving scenes - a father carrying an ill child into this water or a son carrying an aged father in his arms - both resting belief and complete faith that they will be cured by this magical sarovar
I wash my face with this holy water and silently witness the believes, soak in the echo of shabad and watch as the faith and stories unfold in front of me
I take time to visit the Akal Takht and offer my prayers. I also offer prayers near the 'auspicious' ber tree called Ber baba buddha . Under this tree, Baba Buddha rested and oversaw construction of the pool. He was the first Granthi of the temple.
Across this point is the place where Langar is served . A simple vegetarian meal served through the day. The principles of Langar are simple and commendable. Everyone is equal. Everyone sits together on the mats neatly placed on the floor and eats the same food. There is no rich and no poor, no big or small in the eyes and home of Granth Sahib and inside the Golden temple . The food is prepared and served by volunteers called kar sevaks.
About two decades ago, the bread used to be made by women volunteers. Many women would sit and roll the bread together and then cook it on a large pan or tandoor. However this technique couldn't match up with the increase in pilgrims and the popularity of the langar.
Now the kitchen is equipped with machines that roll out bread for langar.
The kar sevaks also organize the cleaning of utensils, collection of shoes, cleaning of the marble floor.
I spend some more time near the sarovar, which is calming against the 'Ek Onkar' hymn echo from the main temple, and watch kar sevaks constantly clean the water.
I partake in the cleaning activity with my head covered and bowed to the almighty!
As narrated by Navtej Singh