Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple)



“Dithe Sabhe Thanv, Nahi Tudh Jehia,” a hymn by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth Sikh Guru is an apt description of how I felt as I stepped into the sanctum sanctorum, The Golden Temple.

The hymn translates as, “Even after seeing all the beautiful places in the world, there is none that can compare to the beauty of the Creator, the omnipresent Almighty.”

Hailing from the holy city, an annual trip to the Harimandir Sahib is inevitable. This time, however, we decided to make a twist. Since the children are well into their teens, a mutual decision was taken to step into the holy place way before dawn, the ‘Amrit Vela’. The idea was appealing and we get set to accomplish the plan.

As per tradition, the Guru Granth Sahib is the guiding guru for the Sikhs. Since it encapsulates the learning of the nine gurus along with great saints, poets and philosophers, it is treated equivalent to a living Guru Sahib. Thus, ceremonies of Sukhasan – laying to rest for the day, and Parkash – implying rising and making oneself visible for the day, are the two essential rituals every day. So, the ‘Amrit Vela’, approximately three hours before dawn, around 3:30 am, is when the sangat (worshipers and believers) prepares to welcome the ‘Sawari’ of the Guru Granth Sahib in a palki from the Akal Takht to the main complex of The Golden Temple.

Paying obeisance at this hour at the Golden Temple is a surreal experience. We woke up to shrill alarms and a starry luminescent sky. No traffic, no honking, easier breathing and we gracefully glided into the Saragarhi parking lot. One can save time if you recce the road and parking lot a day earlier.

PC: Vandana Bhasin

The main gurudwara complex is a ten-minute walk from the parking. When planning, do account for the time needed to deposit shoes, washing hands and feet while maneuvering the swarming pilgrims.

The moment we descended the staircase, the mellifluous hymns wafting around like magical whispers from the unknown permeate the being. The crowds begin to build up, so we move swiftly. The devotees are stopped into queues by 4:30 am, the time the ‘Palki Sahib’ enters. Our aim is to be seated within the main complex to welcome and witness the grand ceremony before 4:30 am.

Our fleeting steps ensure that we meet the timelines and soon we are within the main complex. The positive energy encapsulates the personage. Soft chanting of Waheguru, Waheguru penetrates every inch of the soul. The chanting creates a capsule of warmth even as the cold breeze stings the form.

The ‘Palki Sahib’ arrives. Bedecked with fresh roses and marigold chains along with the beating of the traditional ‘Ransingha’ (from the trumpet family). The chanting continues like an ever-constant vibration engulfing all those in attendance. It is a transcending melody that takes one closer to feeling the existence of a Supreme power. The experience is indescribable.

This visit was an out-of-world experience for us. We were there for three hours. None of us spoke for the complete duration, not even the children. Isn’t that unimaginable! Such is the power and energy of the place!

My advice would be to visit the Golden Temple a day before, and check out the timelines for the daily rituals displayed on a prominent notice board. The caretakers on duty are approachable and help with everything one needs to know. This is also the time when long queues can be avoided especially if visiting with elders and children. Believe me, it is enthralling and one walks out awestruck. I end with the same hymn I started with, “Dithe Sabhe Thanv, Nahi Tudh Jehia”.

Saravjot Hansrao

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