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

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

biniaz

Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz onto new ventures after Miss Universe Canada reign (w/ gallery)

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Life hasn’t always been glamorous for Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz. The Indian-born and Iran-raised beauty spent most of her elementary…
Continue Reading »

PNG0419NVAISAKHI-13_215499176

Gallery: 200,000 flood Surrey streets for annual Vaisakhi parade

VANCOUVER DESI About 200, 000 people came out for Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade on Saturday. Vaisakhi – which celebrates the Punjab harvest time and the…
Continue Reading »

kate main

Gallery: Duchess Catherine races to the rescue in heels on beachy Sydney tour

GORDON RAYNER THE DAILY TELEGRAPH RUNNING in slow-motion along a golden beach, the Duchess of Cambridge appeared to emulate one of the famous scenes from…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

biniaz

Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz onto new ventures after Miss Universe Canada reign (w/ gallery)

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Life hasn’t always been glamorous for Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz. The Indian-born and Iran-raised beauty spent most of her elementary…
Continue Reading »

PNG0419NVAISAKHI-13_215499176

Gallery: 200,000 flood Surrey streets for annual Vaisakhi parade

VANCOUVER DESI About 200, 000 people came out for Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade on Saturday. Vaisakhi – which celebrates the Punjab harvest time and the…
Continue Reading »

Kirpans, stylized swords worn by initiated Sikh men and women as dictated by  their religious beliefs, are now allowed in embassies. Jason Payne/ PNG

Canada to allow Sikh kirpans in its embassies and missions abroad

JEFF LACROIX-WILSON OTTAWA CITIZEN Eight years after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that kirpans – the ceremonial daggers worn by those of the Sikh…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

File photo: Indian villagers gather near the body of an elephant in a field in the northeastern state of Assam on July 8, 2013. It is believed that the elephant was electrocuted by power lines as they walked through fields of growing rice at night . STRSTRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Four elephants die from shoddy electrical wires in Indian forest

VANCOUVER DESI A wild elephant has died after it was electrocuted when it stumbled into low hanging electrical wires in a northeastern Indian forest, according…
Continue Reading »

Indian Lovers Party

Gallery: Weird Indian political party names and symbols

VANCOUVER DESI In a country with over 800 million eligible voters, which symbol you vote for is very important. The largest political parties have simple…
Continue Reading »

worship-India

Six-year-old worshipped for patch of hair on his back that has grown into a tail

VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old Indian boy is being worshipped by villagers for a small patch of hair on his back that has grown into a…
Continue Reading »

underage-sex-pregnancy-Britain

Opinion: Britain’s youngest mom — 12-year-old — isn’t a case for the midwife, it’s a case for the police

ALLISON PEARSON THE DAILY TELEGRAPH  A girl aged 12 years and three months became Britain’s youngest mother over the weekend. She was still at primary…
Continue Reading »

nude bath

PETA India urges health ministry to ban sale of animal-tested products

IANS New Delhi – Animal rights group PETA has urged India’s health ministry to ban the marketing and sale of animal-tested cosmetics and household products….
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Porn Queen-desi

Sunny Leone to host MTV reality dating show

IANS New Delhi — Indo-Canadian adult film star Sunny Leone is back to where she started her career in Hindi showbiz – the small screen….
Continue Reading »

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra showcases a creation by designer Neeta Lulla on the sixth day of the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) summer/resort 2014 in Mumbai on March 16, 2014. STRSTRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Mary Kom shoot harder than hardest for Priyanka

IANS Mumbai  – Months of turmoil for Mary Kom have been “harder than the hardest” for Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, who plays the title role…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Amitabh Bachchan’s Bhoothnath Returns screened before Indian president

IANS New Delhi  – Megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s latest film Bhoothnath Returns, a fun-filled film which also highlights the importance of voting, was screened for President…
Continue Reading »