Almost 80% of the renovations been completed at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, which commemorates the spot where the fifth guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev, died. Special stone has been imported from India while Muslim, Hindu and Christian artisans are lending their expertise to the project, illustrating a perfect example of interfaith harmony.
The temple is located in the vicinity of Badshahi Masjid and Shahi Qila. The Evacuee Property Trust Board (EPTB), the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and Jagtar Singh Tarn Taran India are collaborating on expanding and renovating the Gurdwara. EPTB, PSGPC and a large number of Sikhs have contributed towards the project.
Sardar Baba Jagdish Singh, a worker from India, says that it is his good luck and fortune which have allowed him the opportunity to work on this project.
He states that previously work on Gurdwara Nakana Sahib was underway. He maintains that the old building comprising of Gurdwara Dera Sahib has not been touched. Instead a porch and a basement have been added.
Singh adds that Sikhism is open to everyone. “It does not restrict people with different beliefs and faiths from participating in festivities,” he says. Even the foundation for the Golden Temple, the most sacred place for Sikhs, was laid by a Sufi, Hazrat Mian Mir Sarkar, he says.
EPTB Deputy Secretary (Shrines) Imran Gondal reveals that Gurdwara Dera Sahib is one of the most sacred places for Sikhs. Thousands of worshippers from all over the world, including India, visit the shrine in June. Every year there is an increase in the number of pilgrims who visit the temple.
“Previously, there was not enough room to accommodate the worshippers,” he says. Now, additional rooms have been added to ensure that all the pilgrims are accommodated. After the expansion and renovations are complete, the place will be able to host 2,500 to 3,000 pilgrims.
Sardar Bashan Singh, former president of PSGPC, claims that 80% of the expansion and renovation work has been completed. Now the stone work will begin.
Efforts are being made to utilise the same type of stone used in Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and the Golden Temple. Special permission will be obtained from the Pakistani government in this regard.
However, the person who is the most elated is Sardar Sahib Singh who has been living at Gurdwara Dera Sahib for the past forty years. Singh says that he is fortunate enough to see renovations being done on the temple during his lifetime.
He vehemently maintains that the renovations have not altered the structure and the design of the old building. “Another separate building has been constructed using the old building as a template. Further, the ancient well has been preserved in the basement,” he adds.
Sources claim that renovations will be completed before Guru Nanak Devji’s 550th birthday, which will be celebrated in November.