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

Abbotsford's Ravinder Singh Atwal has been identified online as the truck driver who died in a truck crash on Highway 99 near Delta on Wednesday. The Abbotsford father was killed when his dump truck hit the highway median and burst into flames. Submitted photo/Facebook.

Abbotsford trucker killed on Hwy 99 remembered as ‘one of the nicest guys’

GLENDA LUYMES VANCOUVER DESI An Abbotsford father killed in a fiery crash on Highway 99 is being remembered as hard-working and friendly by fellow truck…
Continue Reading »

A man reads the latest issue of French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo bearing a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed at a French bookseller in Abidjan on January 19, 2015. SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

Mumbai police arrest newspaper editor for reprinting Charlie Hebdo cartoon

VANCOUVER DESI Mumbai police have arrested and since bailed out the editor of an Urdu language newspaper for reprinting a Charlie Hebdo cartoon of the…
Continue Reading »

Indian spectators watch as a float carrying a sign that reads "Congratulations! It's a Baby Girl" passes by during the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2015. The float represented India's Ministry of Women and Child Development.  An estimated 26 million babies are born anually in India, a country considered to be one of the worst places to be born a girl because of a societal 'gender gap' that favours boys and preferences for male children. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Father in India arrested for attempted murder after trying to bury his daughter alive

VANCOUVER DESI A father in India has been arrested for attempted murder after he tried to bury his 10-year-old daughter alive, according to Britain’s Daily…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Abbotsford's Ravinder Singh Atwal has been identified online as the truck driver who died in a truck crash on Highway 99 near Delta on Wednesday. The Abbotsford father was killed when his dump truck hit the highway median and burst into flames. Submitted photo/Facebook.

Abbotsford trucker killed on Hwy 99 remembered as ‘one of the nicest guys’

GLENDA LUYMES VANCOUVER DESI An Abbotsford father killed in a fiery crash on Highway 99 is being remembered as hard-working and friendly by fellow truck…
Continue Reading »

Opposition Muted to Harper’s New Anti Terror Bill

BY Ujjal Dosanjh Special to Vancouver Province I smell an election coming. Not in October 2015; much sooner than that. Harper has just unveiled the…
Continue Reading »

Opposition parties treading carefully on new anti-terror legislation

By Stephanie Levitz THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Anti-terrorism legislation introduced by the Conservative government Friday received a cautious reception by the opposition parties who…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Vancouver-BC

Raise your hand, send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

File photo: Curry chicken on rice. Sam Leung/PNG

Spicy treats on menu as 8 chef teams battle for Vancouver’s second-annual Curry Cup

VANCOUVER DESI A group of Lower Mainland chefs are set to go head-to-head with their South Asian cooking skills as they gear up for Vancouver’s…
Continue Reading »

Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Sonu Sood and Boman Irani in a still from the Bollywood film Happy New Year.

Indian expat avoids stalking conviction by blaming Bollywood for his behaviour

IANS Sydney  – An Indian man’s excuse that Bollywood love stories encouraged him to excessively approach and stalk women helped him avoid conviction in the…
Continue Reading »

File photo: Commuters hang by doors of a crowded local train in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Three men were killed on Monday after they attempted to take a selfie by a moving train near Agra. AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

College students killed while attempting train selfie in India

VANCOUVER DESI Three college friends on their way to India’s Republic Day celebrations were killed by a speeding train after they tried posing for a…
Continue Reading »

Screen shot of Shah Rukh Khan's first video tweet. Submitted.

Shah Rukh Khan sends out India’s first tweet using Twitter’s new mobile video camera

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was the first-ever Indian to use Twitter’s freshly launched mobile video camera. Twitter announced the new feature on…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Akshay Kumar

Askhay Kumar offers martial arts training to visually impaired girls

PRASHANT SINGH HINDUSTAN TIMES Last year, Akshay Kumar — who was a professional martial arts trainer before he started acting — launched an initiative to…
Continue Reading »

Shah Rukh Khan (L) and Kajol (R) are rumoured to be appearing in the next Rohit Shetty film. Getty Images.

Rohit Shetty tightlipped on SRK, Kajol casting rumours

IANS Mumbai — Bollywood’s blockbuster director Rohit Shetty is remaining tightlipped on rumours he’s managed to rope in a casting coup of Shah Rukh Khan…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood sex

Sonam Kapoor never planned to use her father’s fame to jumpstart her Bollywood career

IANS Mumbai  – It’s always thought that Bollywood’s star children have it easy, but actress Sonam Kapoor says that at the start of her film…
Continue Reading »