Amritsar: The Punjab Assembly which met for the special commemorative session to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, passed a resolution urging the Jathedar of Akal Takht and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for allowing women to perform kirtan in the sanctum sanctorum of Darbar Sahib. The resolution was moved by Rural Development Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa.
Bajwa said Guru Nanak Dev fought against caste and gender inequality throughout his life and this discrimination against women should also end on his 550th Parkash Purab. He said the resolution was aimed at the ‘baani siddhant virodh’ that led to gender discrimination. Only Sikh men perform kirtan at the Golden Temple as of now. The resolution, which was endorsed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) members, was passed by the Assembly by voice vote. The SAD, which earlier objected to the wording of the resolution, later came out in support. Akali Dal MLA and leader of the party in the House Parminder Singh Dhindsa had objected the resolution saying it was “sarkari”. The resolution would now be sent formally to the Akal Takht and the SGPC.
Bajwa, earlier, rejected an Akali leader’s claim that according to Sikh ‘rehat maryada’ (religious code of conduct), Sikh women are not allowed to perform ‘kirtan sewa’ at the ‘Darbar Sahib’. Bajwa pointed out that even Akali leader and former SGPC chief Jagir Kaur too had sought permission for Sikh women to perform kirtan sewa at the shrine. “There was no mention in the Sikh history of any discrimination against women,” he said ruing that Sikh women were not allowed to perform Kirtan Sewa till now.
Dhindsa intervened, saying that through the resolution efforts were being made to depict that the Akal Takht or the SGPC are deliberately refusing women to sing hymns at the Golden Temple. He further said he agreed with the feelings of Bajwa, but asserted the Akal Takht was already aware of this issue. To this, Bajwa said he was not challenging the authority of the Akal Takht but just requesting it and the SGPC to allow Sikh women to perform ‘kirtan sewa’. To this, Dhindsa asked if it was a government resolution or individual resolution. Meanwhile, AAP members Kultar Singh Sandhwan criticised Akali leaders for raising questions over the resolution.
The issue was raised at various platforms in the past. The Sikh leadership of the state usually gets questioned on the issue during political meetings abroad. Jagir Kaur, a former Akali MLA, after taking over as SGPC chief in 1999 had announced to treat baptised women on par with men for discharging religious duties at the Golden Temple.