Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gesture of serving langar at Sri Darbar Sahib today set off a debate on the motive behind the move in poll-bound Punjab. He is the first PM to do so, catching the attention of everyone.
Accompanied by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, he visited Sri Darbar Sahib on the eve of Heart of Asia summit’s inauguration.
Questions were also raised on the woollen cap Modi wore and a brief halt in “kirtan” when the dignitaries entered the sanctum sanctorum.
Experts said there was no objection to Modi wearing a cap, but his gesture of serving langar appeared to be pre-conceived aimed for political gains.
Modi spent around 35 minutes in Sri Darbar Sahib in the evening. He bowed before Sri Guru Granth Sahib five times before he and Ghani were presented with a “siropa”
Chief Information Officer Gurbachan Singh said, “We were informed that he and Ghani may partake of ‘langar’, but were surprised when he started serving langar.”
On Modi’s cap and a brief halt in kirtan, Manager Sulakhan Singh said, “The cap Modi wore was acceptable, as the idea is to cover the head. The ‘kirtan’ was stopped for a while. As per tradition, ‘chownki’ of Bir Baba Budha Sahib is ferried out to ‘parikarma’ every day. When it is taken out of the sanctum sanctorum or brought in, ‘ardas’ is performed and ‘kirtan’ is halted. It was a coincidence that the PM and other dignitaries entered the sanction sanctorum then,” he said.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) provided a volunteer force inside the shrine during Modi’s visit while security officials in plain-clothes were accompanying the high-security VIP visitors.
Foreign leaders who have visited the shrine include then Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in November 2009. British monarch Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Phillip visited Sri Darbar Sahib in October 1997.