By Rashmi Talwar
Baisakhi is special to undivided Punjab, ushering the start of the golden harvest of ripened Rabi crop and spelling Prosperity for the hard-working Punjabi farmer.
Legend has it …That so sacred was this festival and so auspicious this day for the mostly agrarian community of the state that is often referred to as the –’food basket’ of the country– that children born were given their first sip of water-or ‘amrit’—nectar of life –on this day. So a child born a day or two after Baisakhi had to wait for the next Baisakhi to wet his lips from the holy sarovar of the Golden Temple!…In some villages of Punjab the practice still carries on …
Foundation of Khalsa on Baisakhi —Was laid by Guru Gobind Singh the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs who founded the Khalsa (Community of the Pure) at the Baisakhi of 1699, at Keshgarh Sahib near Anandpur.
Baisakhi —marking the start of the Harvesting season sees joyous ‘bhagra’ and ‘gidda’the dancing golden shafts of Rabi crop, religious processions led by Panj Piaras, mock drills of gatka and sword and shaft wielding mock duels , holy Shabads from Guru Granth Sahib and all things golden and yellow . People prefer to don yellow clothes, eat sweet yellow rice pulao, mal puras and loquat—a yellow fruit is given as ‘parsad’ in many religious shrines in Punjab and elsewhere where Punjabis reside in the world .
90th Anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
–The Turning Point in the collective struggle of Undivided India
The gory Massacre of Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar was the turning point in India’s march towards Freedom from the clutches of the British.
Nine decades or 90-years past ,on 13th April 1919 – General Reginald O’Dyer marched a squad of soldiers into the Jallianwala Bagh, a large enclosed public park in the holy city of Amritsar, and opened fire without warning on an innocent crowd including Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims gathered to hear political speeches, leaving 379 dead (unofficial figures put the toll nearer 1,000) unarmed people in an enclosed park adjoining the Golden Temple in Amritsar. To many in India, including Gandhi and Nehru, O’Dyer’s action proved the moral bankruptcy of the British Empire. A bitter debate followed the shootings, the worst atrocity perpetrated by the British in the twentieth century, was a decisive turning point in India’s march to Independence.
O’Dyer Bungalow next to the “Hanging chambers” at Fort Gobindgarh still exists as a grim reminder of ‘The Butcher of Amritsar”
“That’s a bit exaggerated”: Prince Philips remarked on number of massacred in Jallianwala Bagh , ‘O’Dyer’s son told me ‘
In the golden jubilee year of India’s Independence(1997), Minutes after Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stood in silence at the Flame of Liberty, the Duke of Edinburgh reached a plaque recording the events of the 1919 massacre. To the assertion that 2,000 people were killed by Gen O’Dyer’s troops, (The precise text is: “This place is saturated with the blood of about two thousand Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who were martyred in a non-violent struggle.” It goes on to describe the events of that day.)
“That’s a bit exaggerated,” Philip asserted, “It must include the wounded.” Asked Philip how he had come to this conclusion. “I was told about the killings by General Dyer’s son,” said the Duke, “I’d met him while I was in the Navy.” The fact that it was the only pointed aspect that took his focus, caused deep offence. Perhaps more important of all, the staggering arrogance that Prince Philip displayed in citing his source of information on the tragedy, made clear the lack of integrity in the wreath-laying ceremony for the martyrs of Jallianwala bagh.
Mann’s Nana honors O’Dyer
Simranjit Singh Mann’s –(President of political party Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar))- ‘‘nana’’ (maternal grandfather) Aroor Singh then head priest of Golden Temple had honored General O’Dyer at Akal Takht after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He however says he sought unconditional apology for the act.
Mystery of the “rare” manhole covers at Jallianwala Bagh
By Neeraj Bagga
Amritsar–Would you like to see “Pierre Jeanneret” designed manhole cover with the map of Chandigarh embossed on top of it? If the answer is yes then you need to visit historic Jallianwala Bagh with more attention. Keen observers might have seen it but it needed to ponder for a while and inquisitive mind to unearth the truth behind rectangular boxes and zigzag lines over it. Alas, the manhole cover rarely receives attention of onlookers.
The Inane looking grid type metallic manhole covers hardly attract attention. These 2-manhole covers can be found thus . One is placed just in front of the entrance of Jallianwala Bagh with green kota stone around it, while a similar one is also located inside the bagh premises. Thousands of tourists walk daily over the cast iron lid to enter the street into the historic bagh without knowing or paying even a cursory glance to these manhole lids . These manhole lids have even become rare in Chandigarh, as many of them have been stolen and replaced with concrete ones.
A glance over the lid definitely catches attention of onlookers with rectangular-shaped boxes engraved on it.