World leaders including Golden Temple on their itineraries speaks to global influence of Sikhs

Published: February 21, 2013
Stephen Harper and David Cameron

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (left) and British Prime Minister David Cameron both ensured to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab on their recent visits to India. Photo illustration/Getty Images

Chandigarh, Feb 22 (IANS) When world leaders visit the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, it is not religion but politics on their minds.

The holiest of Sikh shrines, Harmandar Sahib, better known as the Golden Temple, is one stop that world leaders strive not to miss when in India. The reason? Countries like the U.S., Britain and Canada have a large population of migrants from Punjab, especially Sikhs. Many of them have done well in these countries and wield political and economic clout.

David Cameron became the first British prime minister to visit Amritsar this week. He not only offered prayers at the Golden Temple but also went on to express regret for the massacre of hundreds of innocent and unarmed Indians by British troops at the Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919. Cameron described the massacre as a “shameful” incident.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Punjab in November last year. He offered prayers at Takht Keshgarh Sahib, another holy shrine of Sikhism at Anandpur Sahib, 85 km from here. It is the birthplace of the Khalsa Panth, the community of Sikhism.

Harper, however, visited the Golden Temple in November 2009 and offered prayers. He spent nearly one hour inside the shrine complex. Harper even omitted Hyderabad from his itinerary to make sure he visited Amritsar.

Canada is home to a large population of immigrants from Punjab, especially Sikhs. A number of members of the Canadian parliament, ministers, officials and other influential people in the country have roots in Punjab. Recent figures also show Punjabi has become the most common language spoken in Canada behind official languages English and French.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal accompanied Cameron and Harper during their visits. The Sikh clergy has been rolling out the red carpet for high-profile visitors such as these.

U.S. President Barack Obama came close to visiting the Golden Temple in October 2010 during his official visit to India. His proposed visit, however, ran into a controversy over the headgear he would wear to enter the shrine. Under Sikh religious traditions, every devotee to the shrine has to have his head covered. But a White House security team, which visited Amritsar, was not in favour of Obama wearing the traditional scarf to cover his head during his visit to the Golden Temple. The scarf, they felt, may convey an image of him appearing to be a Muslim, an impression the Obama team wanted to avoid for political reasons back home. The visit was finally called off.

Sikh religious leaders said the doors of the shrine would remain open to him and he could wear any headgear, even a cap or hat, for his visit.

British monarch Queen Elizabeth II visited the shrine in 1997.


Tags: , , , , , ,





Featured

cricket-terrorism-Belgium

Pakistani cricketer labeled terrorist for carrying bat on public transport, deported from Belgium

VANCOUVER DESI A young Pakistani cricketer and his family have been forced out of Belgium after he was labeled a terrorist for carrying his cricket…
Continue Reading »

Police tape-Abbotsford-crime

Abbotsford police look for suspect in Mill Lake sex assault

VANCOUVER DESI Abbotsford police are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a woman at Mill Lake last week. In a press release, police said…
Continue Reading »

terrorism

Dharm Makwana: Presumed guilty until you miss your flight

  DHARM MAKWANA VANCOUVER DESI By the end of the ordeal my wife was on the verge of tears. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Police tape-Abbotsford-crime

Abbotsford police look for suspect in Mill Lake sex assault

VANCOUVER DESI Abbotsford police are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a woman at Mill Lake last week. In a press release, police said…
Continue Reading »

terrorism

Dharm Makwana: Presumed guilty until you miss your flight

  DHARM MAKWANA VANCOUVER DESI By the end of the ordeal my wife was on the verge of tears. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection…
Continue Reading »

patquinn2

Spice Sports: Pat Quinn passes away at age 71

GOPI AND THE GORA FOR VANCOUVER DESI The hockey world is deeply saddened by the passing of the legendary Pat Quinn, who spent nearly 50…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

suffer in silence

Help for Victims of Sexual Abuse

NIRMALA RANIGA VANCOUVER DESI The reasons for not reporting incidents of sexual abuse or harassment are many and varied. Recently, we have addressed some of…
Continue Reading »

Sitara Devi

Kathak star Sitara Devi dies after prolonged illness

IANS Mumbai – Eminent danseuse Sitara Devi, who once impressed Rabindranath Tagore with a three-hour solo recital, died here Tuesday after prolonged illness, leaving behind…
Continue Reading »

monkey main

Killer monkeys invade India after government issues wildlife preservation to protect wild apes

CEN AGENCY A ban on capturing monkeys in India has led to an explosion of ape attacks – some which are deadly – across the…
Continue Reading »

Surrey RCMP were called to ..

Surrey husband charged with murder after wife found dead in Newton home

SURREY NOW and VANCOUVER DESI A Surrey man has been charged with murder after his 64-year-old wife was found dead at their Newton home on…
Continue Reading »

desi bride loaded in gold

Indian bride draws flak for wearing $700,000 jewellery at her wedding

CEN AGENCY An Indian sweet maker made sure his daughter was the golden girl at her upcoming wedding by covering her in gold jewellery worth…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Hrithik Roshan and Sussanne Khan

Arjun Rampal still quiet on his proximity to Hrithik Roshan’s ex-wife Sussanne

HINDUSTAN TIMES In December 2013, Arjun Rampal’s name was dragged into the troubled Hrithik Roshan-Sussanne Khan marriage. Rumours claimed that the actor, a close friend…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood sex

Bipasha Basu: Pinkathon important platform encouraging women

IANS Mumbai – Actress Bipasha Basu Tuesday expressed support for Pinkathon, a run for breast cancer awareness, terming it an important platform that encourages women….
Continue Reading »

Kangana Ranaut

Bollywood’s female stars rise in stature and crank out hits, but ask: Where is the money? (w/gallery)

NIRMALA GEORGE THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW DELHI — This is Bollywood’s year of the woman. Some of the biggest hits in India’s prolific movie industry…
Continue Reading »