Commemorating Guru Nanak’s links with Bidar

Prakash Purab is special here as the founder of Sikhism is said to have visited the area during his ‘dakshinapatha’

Published - November 12, 2019 12:05 am IST - Bidar

Karnataka Bidar 11.11.2019 A copy of the Guru Granth Sahib on display at the Gurudwara Guru Nanak Jhira in Bidar during the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on Monday. Gopichand T

Karnataka Bidar 11.11.2019 A copy of the Guru Granth Sahib on display at the Gurudwara Guru Nanak Jhira in Bidar during the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on Monday. Gopichand T

Bidar, a town in northeastern Karnataka, holds a special place in the history of the Sikh faith as it is connected to the life of Guru Nanak and a few other religious figures.

As the faithful celebrate Prakash Purab, the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on Tuesday, Bidar town is marking the event with special fervour, under the aegis of the Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee and the Guru Nanak Foundation.

Guru Nanak is believed to have visited Bidar during ‘dakshinapatha’ or his southern sojourn. Legend has it that he stopped in the hilly town of Bidar while returning from Sri Lanka in 1512. The people of the parched land asked him for water and he moved a stone with his toe and an eternal spring came alive there. The spring ( jhira ) that bears his name still exists in the town near the Gurdwara.

The main Prakash Purab events in Bidar, which began on November 9 and will culminate on Tuesday, are being held in the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Jhira in Guru Nagar, which includes prayers, sermons, mass singing, processions, demonstrations of martial arts, and so on.

As a precursor to the festival, a pan India rally was held from June to October. A team of around 100 devotees travelled to all places associated with the life of Guru Nanak and other places of religious importance.

They carried copies of the Guru Granth Sahib from the Gurdwara Huzur Sahib in Nanded and held meetings with the youth to create awareness about Guru Nanak’s philosophy.

Balbir Singh, president of the Prabhandak committee said that lakhs have visited Bidar since November 9, coming in from various States and Punjab, besides international destinations.

Deputy Commissioner H.R. Mahadev said the district administration had also set up a control room to help pilgrims and tourists. The Gulbarga Electric Supply Company will ensure continuous power supply.

Other associations

Sahib Singh, one of the Panj Pyare, or the Five Beloved Warriors of Sikhism, is believed to have hailed from Bidar. He travelled to Anandpur Sahib to be baptised in the Khalsa. He became one of the first five volunteer Sikh warriors who stood by Guru Govind Singh in battle.

He was born Sahib Chand, son of Bhai Guru Narayan, in a village near Bidar. The legend associated with him says that he walked for a year to reach Anandpur Sahib at the age of 16. But other sources, like the Mahakosh, a Sikh encyclopaedia, say he was born in Nangal in Hoshiarpur district. Research by the Bidar Gurudwara management committee did not reveal his birthplace. But a Gurdwara was built in his honour on the Bidar-Nanded Road, Gurdwara Bhai Sahib Singhji.

The story of the woman warrior Mata Bhag Kaur, or Mai Bhago, too is linked to Bidar. Historical records reveal that Mai Bhago, who fought in the battle of Muktasar, was appointed one of the 10 body guards of Guru Govind Singh. She later became a spiritual preacher on the directions of her Guru and settled on a Jain settlement on the banks of the river Manjra in 1708. That village is now identified as Janawada, 10 km from Bidar. A Gurudwara — Gurdwara Tap Asthan Mai Bhago — now stands at the place of the Dera or tent from which she gave her sermons. “There are plans to develop the Sahib Singh and Mai Bhago gurudwaras further,” said Manpreet Singh Khanuja, an office-bearer of the foundation.

The grand Gurdwara

The town has a recently redecorated Gurdwara — a stone-concrete building with a white marble exterior. It has exquisite stone and metal craft work on the walls and ceiling. The Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred text that is considered a living Guru, is kept on a platform. The Gurdwara situated on over 100 acres of land, has a pilgrim hostel that can accommodate around 3,000 guests, several facilities, a flower garden, a public bathing place, a museum, a book store, and a hospital. Volunteers do most of the work in the Gurdwara, such as cleaning, cooking, crowd management, and maintenance of the hostel. “The Guru Nanak Foundation has been engaged in various religious activities. It will also extend its activities to mainstream social service and charity and relief works,” said Balbir Singh, president of the Gurdwara management committee and the foundation.

Religious rituals

Various religious rituals were held in the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Jhira in Bidar on Monday as part of the four-day-long birth anniversary celebrations. Keerthan Darbar was held at the main venue. A langar mass lunch was organised for the faithful.

The highlight of the day was the all-religion conference, where heads of various religious institutions spoke. Sri Sidram Sharana of Beldal spoke of Basaveshwara philosophy. Ghulam Hyder Quadri and Haji Abdul Rehman of Hyderabad spoke of the tenets of Islam. Jotinder Singh, Jangbir Singh, Rajit Singh, Rajendra Singh, and others spoke of Sikhism and the life and times of Guru Nanak.

A colourful procession will be taken out around the city on Tuesday, the last day of the celebrations. Devotional singers Bhai Chamanjit Singh Dilliwale and Asadiwar Bhai Gurunam Singh will render songs in the Keerthan Darbar on Tuesday.

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