| Teheran, Iran | 21 Aug 2015 | Asia Samachar |
Sikhs in Iran are reported to be divided on the question whether they can bath bodies in the gurdwara compound. However, the same report also spoke about a ‘new’ committee at the Teheran gurdwara which suggests that the issue could be linked to differences of opinion between the two groups.
Sikhs of Iran are up against each other on the issue of maryada (Sikh code of conduct) following the construction of a thara (morgue stand) in the washroom of Tehran’s Gurdwara Bhai Ganga Singh Sabha premises which has posed the risk of sealing of the place by the Iranian government, reports The Times of India (TOI).
A senior Iranian Sikh, Pervinder Singh Chandok, told TOI over phone from Tehran on Aug 21 that new committee of the gurdwara had constructed a morgue stand for bathing the bodies before performing cremation.
“This amounts to absolute insult as there is divine parkash (installation) of Guru Granth Sahib, and it is not an area in a cremation ground where such practice is allowed,” he was quoted in the report, adding that there couldn’t be any “thara” for bathing the dead in a gurdwara complex.
In Malaysia, at least one gurdwara in Kuala Lumpur – Gurdwara Sahib Sentul – have facilities to bath the body of the departed in the gurdwara compound itself. The gurdwara also provides hearse service.
The TOI report has reported Chandok as stating that it was an illegal practice that could invite wrath from the local Iranian population, Chandok said it could even lead to the sealing of the gurdwara by the government.
He said he had brought the issue to the knowledge of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) to raise it at an international level.
Chandok is also an international adviser and coordinator of Iran Kabaddi Federation. Sikhs are a small community of Iran with their population sharply declining to around 175 families from earlier more than a 1,000. There are two gurdwaras situated each at Tehran and Zahed.
The same report quoted Saheb Singh Patwalia, a member of Tehran gurdwara committee, as saying:m “Everyone in Tehran, including Sikhs and others, are aware that the bodies are washed on the premises of the gurdwara which is a long-practiced tradition.”
He said previously, the bodies were kept on the ground and washed whereas a “thara” had been build so that mortal remains are handled with care and respect.
Patwalia said that after a body was washed and brought upstairs from the underground bathroom to the entrance of gurdwara, ardas (prayer) was performed for the departed soul before the ambulance takes away the body to the cremation ground. He also claimed that there was no violation of “maryada” in construction of the “thara”.
Speaking on the issue, DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK said construction of “thara” was not a known practice. He said he had directed international wing of DSGMC to look into the incident.
When contacted, he Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh clarified that maryada didn’t allow construction of “thara” for bathing the dead in gurdwaras. He also directed the Tehran gurdwara committee to immediately demolish the “thara” and restore “maryada”.
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