Islamic designs imposed on Sikh shrines in Pakistan

Amritsar, India - The Sikh Diaspora has raised allegations that Pakistani authorities are imposing Islamic architecture on gurdwaras located in Pakistan in name of renovation.

Sikh devotees, who visited gurdwaras in Pakistan recently, say the gurdwaras have a different appearance than what they were originally.

Frescos in Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore were white washed.

The Sarovar or the holy tank in Gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hasan Abdal has been covered with green stones. Also, the interior of the gurdwara has been decorated with green colour glass. The floor design of the "Parikarma" of the Gurdwara Punja Sahib is characteristic of Islamic architecture.

Green colour is generally used in Islamic architectures, whereas white, gray, blue and yellow are used in gurdwaras.

The white marble of the "samadhi" of Guru Nanak at the historic Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan's Narowal District has been replaced with green coloured stones. Moreover, the Gurdwara gives the impression of a Mosque with huge green coloured glass windows.

The Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board (PETPB), looking after the Kar Sewa at Pakistani gurdwaras, has not constituted a committee of Sikh conservatives and architects to supervise the renovation work, as was proposed.

Most of the 172 historical Sikh shrines in Pakistan are in a dilapidated condition, including those in Nankana Sahib in Punjab. It is believed that the founder of Sikh religion, Guru Nanak, was born in Nankana Sahib.

Under para (iii) of the 1974 Bilateral Protocol on Visit to Religious Shrines, India and Pakistan are committed to ensure that places of religious worship are properly maintained and their sanctity preserved.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) member, Kiranjot Kaur, said "Pakistan is not following the protocol inked between India and Pakistan to preserve the heritage of the Sikh shrines in Pakistan".

"Any repair to be done in the Gurdwaras must be done under the guidelines of the Sikh architects," Kaur said.

Balwinder Singh, a heritage expert, said it was painful for any heritage lover to see the changes.

Singh had been asked by the Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board (PETPB), to prepare a presentation to save the Sikh heritage in Pakistan, but he said that he was not allowed to present the documents.

"If PETPB is really interested in saving the Sikh heritage, they should hire the services of architects having ample knowledge of Sikh religion and culture," said Singh.Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (PSGPC) President Bishen Singh admitted that most of the architects hired were Muslims.

He alleged that most of the renovation work in Gurdwara Panja Sahib was done during the tenure of Mastan Singh, the then PSGPC President.

Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Management Committee (DSGMC) President Parmjit Singh Sarna said that he we would take up the matter with Pakistan authorities and offer services of Sikh scholars and architects to Pakistan.