Bathing dead in Tehran gurdwara divides Iranian Sikhs

| 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”.



The fallen amongst us (Asia Samachar, 22 Aug 2015)

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  1. Could not agree better with SR Jarnail Singh.
    It is politics being played by Chandok[who I know personally} once he has been ousted.While a tharra[a concrete built raised platform] may noty be permissible within the Gurduara, but another building adjacent to the Gurduara can be constructed.The rising number of famalies living in rising blocks need this facilitiy, in the community.While a building can be purchased, but it helps if this coould be adjacent or within one end of the compound.The Jathedar should remember HAVAN KUNDS were built UPON the TOP of the Harmander sahib complex, when Sant Fateh Singh threatened to immolate himself.The ruins still stand, which I have witnessed my self last year.Until recently a light was lighted, which now has stopped since last two years.There are a number of Gurduaras that stand upon sites where Sikhs were martyred.Gurduara Sis Ganj stands today.In Lahore stands Guruduara Thara sahib where thousands of Sikh mothers were martyred.HOWEVER, the THARA CANNOT BE TURNED Into A PLACE OF WORSHIPor smadh, AS SIKHS TEND TO DO FOLLOWING A CROWD MENTALITY-It is simply a raised platform to bath a body, nothing else.Nothing in the maryada forbids this.

  2. Gurfateh.

    An non-question. As long as the dead body is NOT brought into the Darbar Sahib where the SGGS is Parkash…..its not a Maryada violation. All tis while its OK to wash the dead on the FLOOR..but raising its level on a wrong ??
    Such concerns were also raised when raised platforms were made in Gurdwars for ladies to veal rottiahns and the chur was also elevated so rottis could be roasted standing up…According to tradionalists (Pramparah die hards)..Langgar rotis should be prepared on the FLOOR level..and the chur shoudl also be floor level..

    Same non issues…
    A Gurdwara is a place for many “chapters” of a Sikhs life..and Death is one of the most important chapters…