PM, Wife Shown Black FlagsAmritsar, Jan 1: A devout Sikh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh began his new year today by offering pre-dawn prayers at the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple here.Notwithstanding tight security, a large number of
Amritsar, Jan 1: A devout Sikh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh began his new year today by offering pre-dawn prayers at the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple here.
Notwithstanding tight security, a large number of people were present when 79-year-old Singh accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur came to the 16th-century temple at around 6.30 in the morning to offer prayers and appeared to be undisturbed by some 40 supporters of Anna Hazare who waved black flags and shouted slogans against the Government as he left the shrine.
The Prime Minister spent about half-an-hour at the sanctum sanctorum.
They listened to the Shabd Kirtan (religious hymns) and Ardas (prayer) while sitting cross-legged with folded hands in the VIP corridor of the sanctum sanctorum of the Harmandar Sahab, popularly known as Golden Temple.
The Prime Minister was attired in a white Kurta-Pyjama and a dark grey jacket while Gursharan Kaur wore a maroon-coloured shawl and cream-colored ‘salwar kameez'.
The couple, who arrived here last evening, took full round of the marbled periphery around the water pool of the Golden Temple to reach the sanctum sanctorum.
Afterwards they went to Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, to pay obeisance. They heard the Ardas for five minutes.
The PM was escorted in the periphery of the Golden Temple in three different human chains created by the NSG from Delhi, troops of Punjab Police and then Task force of the the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, the apex religious body of the Sikhs.
The Prime Minister and his wife took a sip of “Amrit” (holy nectar) from the water pond at Har Ki Pauri in the periphery of the Golden Temple.
Earlier, the couple were given Siropa (robe of honour) by the Sikh priest Jaswidner Singh in the sanctum sanctorum and later they were again honoured at the Information Centre of Golden Temple by SGPC General Secretary Sukhdev Singh Bahur and SGPC member Kiranjot Kaur.
Information officer of Golden Temple Gurbachan Singh said that couple were also presented small gold plated portrait of the Golden Temple, a set of religious books and shawls.
After leaving the Golden Temple, the couple visited the Hindu shrine Durgiana Temple here where they paid obeisance and were honored by the management of the Temple.
The Prime Minister, who stayed overnight at the Circuit House, also used his visit for a brief family get-together.
Before flaying back to Delhi, he spent nearly 30 minutes with his Amritsar-based brothers Surjit Singh Kohli, Daljit Singh Kohli, three sisters Gian Kaur, Nirman Kaur and Manjit Kaur and their children.
It was a rare occasion for the entire family to come together on the New Year's Day as around 17 family members sat for a while and wished each other, said Surjit Singh Kohli.
Amritsar is the hometown of the Prime Minister, who studied at local Hindu College after his family migrated here from Pakistan after the country's partition. He also has some other relatives here.
The Prime Minister had last visited Golden Temple in March 2009, just a few weeks after his heart surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.
Condemning the incident of showing of black flags to the Prime Minister, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh said "the whole episode seems to be the handiwork of disgruntled and frustrated Akali-BJP leadership which want to gain cheap publicity."
"It is not only unfortunate but highly condemnable that the holy place was used for the protest at the behest of Akalis who are struggling for survival as they face imminent
defeat in the assembly poll," he said in a statement here.
"Some protesters, obviously Akali-BJP workers who hid themselves under the garb of devotees, have not only shown disrespect to a devout Sikh like Manmohan Singh but also violated the sacred sanctity of the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple)," Amarinder said.
He said the team Anna had already distanced itself from the protest "which means that it was stage-managed by the Akalis".