SGPC centenary: An overview of the journey of India’s apex Sikh body and how the celebrations will be marked
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), India’s apex Sikh body, celebrated its centenary on Tuesday. The organization looks after the management of gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh. It runs the world’s largest community kitchen service, langars, feeding hundreds of thousands of people daily.
At the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the SGPC-run langar feeds 50,000 devotees on an average during weekdays and almost double of that during holidays and weekends. The SGPC manages financial, maintenance and religious aspects of the Sikh shrines. They also work to preserve the sacred artifacts including weapons and writings of the Sikh Gurus.
The main celebrations on completion of hundred years of SGPC, which remained low-key owing to the restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, were organized at the Akal Takht – which is considered as the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs – and Amristsar’s Manji Sahib in the Darbar Sahib complex.
Origin of SGPC
Following the annexation of Punjab by the East India Company, the Sikhs grew wary of the rising activities of the Christian missionaries as well as that of the Arya Samaj. The Golden Temple was controlled by the ‘mahants’ who were hand in gloves with the government. Practices of idol worship and caste discrimination were also creeping in. The Sikhs perceived these as violations of the basic tenets of their religion. Hence, SGPC was formed on November 15, 1920 with an aim to prevent the “degradation of Sikh thought and principles”. In 1925, it was notified through the Sikh Gurdwara Act.
SGPC and SAD
SGPC has had a major role to play in strengthening the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) politically. Later on, the SAD came to enjoy a greater sway over the Committee as much as the appointment of SGPC president was decided by the party high command and Avtar Singh Makkar occupied the post for 11 long years. Currently, Gobind Singh Longowal holds the post.
On the centenary, Longowal said that SGPC would exhibit its rich history through books, movies and documentaries. The executive committee of the body also decided that they would observe the 100 years of Nankana Sahib Shaheedi Saka in February 2021.