Kids Corner


Bangla Sahib: Walls of Gold




If all goes according to the plan, the main prayer hall of the historic Bangla Sahib Gurdwara in New Delhi, India, will soon shine with gold.

Around 125 kg of gold, costing nearly 50 million dollars U.S., will be required for the ambitious project.

The gold will be crafted in the form of fixed-sized plates, which would be finally joined together and will adorn the walls of the religious place that is very close to Delhi's commercial hub, Connaught Place.

The first lot of 30 kg of gold was handed over by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) to Baba Harbans Singh - who has launched a kar seva (voluntary service) to make the project a reality - on Friday, June 18, 2010.

DSGMC chief Paramjit Singh says the work will be completed in around 18 months and will be done in phases to ensure that devotees are not put to any discomfort.

The gold plates will be fixed at a height of six feet from the ground to prevent any damage to them. The entire inside portion of the main hall would be covered by gold. The outer portion of the dome of the gurdwara is already gold-plated.

The move has, however, sparked off a debate, with critics saying that the money required for the project could have been spent on education and similar projects, or in educating hundreds of millions of ignorant Indians who remain clueless about Sikhs, Sikhi and 1984.

"It is a sheer waste of resources that can be used to uplift the condition of 1984 pogrom victims," said Jarnail Singh, author of the now famous book on the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms, "I Accuse..".

Paramjit Singh's rival in politics and the head of the Delhi unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Manjit Singh, says the wise move would have been to educate the community with the money.

Some portion of the gold has been donated by managing bodies of various schools runs by the DSGMC in Delhi.

Community members are making donations, he added.

In the past, the DSGMC had gifted a golden "palki" to Gurdwara Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.

Bangla Sahib was built in 1783 and honours the memory of the Eighth Master, Guru Har Krishan. Originally a bungalow stood at the site, hence the name "Bangla Sahib."


[Courtesy: The Tribune]

June 23, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: Sukhindarpal Singh (Penang, Malaysia), June 23, 2010, 11:20 AM.

In the month of October 2009, Gurdwara Sahib Bayan Baru, Penang, Malaysia, organized a month-long evening progarmme, "Lest We Forget", in memory of the Delhi pogrom of 1984. After expenses, a surplus amount of approximately US$ 2000 was handed to United Sikhs for use in their programme to provide education for the descendants of victims of the 1984 pogrom. In February this year, I went to Sultanpuri in Delhi and saw the state of affairs on the ground. The money was to help educate 20 children for 1 year. There are 200 kids who need our help. The cost per child per year is approximately US $100. 10 years of schooling would cost US$ 1000, equal to 25g of gold at US $40/g. Educating 200 students in Sultanpuri for 10 years would cost only 5kg of gold. Do I need to say more? Do I need to do the math for the DSGPC to figure out that if they want to please the Eighth Master, they should provide education to the children of his age to enable them to stand on their own feet and proudly say, "Sri Harkrishen dhiaee-ay/ jis dithay sab dukh jaaye". DSGPC: "Ved hathiaar!" GuruRakha.

2: Chintan Singh (San Jose, California, U.S.A.), June 23, 2010, 11:24 AM.

This is really sad. We continue to add gold to our gurdwara halls and walls and ignore what the Guru Granth Sahib says. Our langar meals become more sumptuous and yet thousands of citizens in Delhi alone, including children, can't get even one nutritious meal a day. This money could be far better spent to help the impoverished Sikhs and non-Sikhs of India and that would be true Sikhi. There is no shortage of causes where this money could go, including food, health-care and education, and yes, re-settling the 1984 victims. I have a lot of respect for Baba Harbans Singh ji for what he has done to maintain and upkeep the gurdwaras, but would genuinely like to know his thoughts on how he thinks adding gold inside the divan hall will help us become better Sikhs and serve Sikhi better.

3: Kamaljeet Singh (Dublin, Ireland), June 23, 2010, 11:47 AM.

Doesn't make too much sense: all this money could have been utilized in feeding thousands, educating people about Sikhi or any other seva program. But to change these things, Sikh leadership needs fresh thinking and ideas from the Sikh youth. For example, so much money is being spent on arranging kirtan programs but I don't understand why there aren't any programs arranged on such a big scale to explain the meaning of those shabads or educating people about Sikhism itself - the importance of meditation, naam simran, and arrangements of discussions to educate people. These are such basic things which are being ignored and the result is that even Sikhs don't know what Sikhi stands for.

4: Gurpal (United Kingdon), June 23, 2010, 12:23 PM.

Sorry, but I'm disgusted. 50 Million US Dollars in India would pay for mass-nationwide Dharam Parchar, e.g., booklets in local languages, cassettes or CDs of inspiring kirtan to millions of households in Northern India. Millions would sit up and take interest in Sikhism resulting in a) better community relations; b) some measure of spiritual benefit to hundreds of thousands of people. Gurbani itself cautions against excessive accumulation of gold, precious jewels, etc., especially at religious places! Harmandar Sahib is a one-off, its gold plating rooted in history. Other than that, no Guru ever desired his 'residence' to be gold-plated. They would rather that our lives were 'gold plated'. Very disappointing.

5: Gurmeet Kaur (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), June 23, 2010, 12:57 PM.

Paramjit Singh ji: Why are you putting Sikhi to shame? This silly fascination with gold has to stop now and the powerful institutions like DSGMC should show the lead in the right direction, not become slave to its lure. When we have fed all the hungry in our community and beyond, when we have taken care of each child's education and secured their spiritual and material future, when we have provided employment to the youth that has been turning to drugs and illegal emigration, then ... maybe then! ... you should cover the Guru with a fancy rumala, leave alone decorate His home with gold. What do you think the Guru wants you to do with the money that comes from the sweat and brow of the sangat? Think about it. If you can't think for yourself, refer to the Guru Granth Sahib and you will find what the Guru thinks of gold, silver and worldly riches. I am truly disgusted with this news.

6: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), June 23, 2010, 1:43 PM.

'Gurdwaray pukkay, dil katchay!'. That is mostly the present state brought about by a bunch of present-day mahants. 'Nincompoops' might be a better description for those at the helm of our richest gurdwaras. They keep simple people engaged in some foolhardy, grandiose plans. With surfeit of money in their coffers, they do not know how to spend it, apart for the elections. I remember having read a long long time ago that the SPGC decided that money could be well be spent by just raising every Nishan Sahib by at least 6 feet for every gurdwara run by SPGC, and the contract was given to some kar seva baba. It is such a pity they don't understand or care to remember the unadorned beauty and simplicity of our great religion in its intrinsic form. Reminds me of two incidents, both of which took place during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. This was the time when Ranjit Singh had set out on an expedition to conquer Garhshanker. On the way was the Adanshahi Dera that followed Bhai Kanhaiyya's tradition of seva. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, as a devout Sikh, sought their blessings and asked them to do ardaas for the success of his mission. This was done, and Ranjit Singh successfully quelled the rebellion and conquered Garhshanker. On the way back, he stopped for a thanksgiving and very generously offered to annex some 50 pinds (villages) to their dera to ensure that bthey would never again have a financial burden to run the Guru ka Langar and other seva projects. The head of the dera - I forget his name now - had a most devastating reply: "Ranjit Singh, you came like a beggar, now you have become a daata!" The second story I'll save for another time. As for the Delhi politicians, I suspect they want the gold wall to start at a certain height is to ensure that the gold isan't pinched as an instant answer to the prayers of the needy. What a waste! Wished they had laid foundation stones for institutes like IITs, instead. But, we remain firmly stuck in the realm of missed opportunities.

7: Harpreet Singh (U.S.A.), June 23, 2010, 3:19 PM.

Bad idea.

8: Harman Singh (Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.), June 23, 2010, 3:35 PM.

This is a prime example of what is wrong with the leadership in Punjab and India. We are busy building gilded monuments while the very foundation of Sikhi is being hollowed out by termites on a daily basis. While our Gurus led a simple, truthful life, ours is mired in pretense and ostentations.

9: Kanwar (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 23, 2010, 5:38 PM.

These are the same idiots that have given saropas to certain Congress politicians involved in the Delhi pogroms. What can you expect from them, really. The whole country is rotten to the core and our 'leaders' there are cut from the same cloth as our oppressors! If ever a Sikh homeland was carved out of India, the same muck would rise to the top, so where is the difference?

10: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada.), June 23, 2010, 6:17 PM.

Gold for God, perhaps it's a fashion in India. Last year, in Tamil Nadu, a Mahalakshmi temple called 'Sripuram' was made of more than a tonne of pure gold, worth Rs 600-crore Indian rupees, and purchased through the Reserve Bank of India. What a waste of money! Jivan Singh of Samplee Sahib Gurdwara also spent his life in kar seva of gold domes in many of the gurdwaras of Punjab. From the time Maharaja Ranjit Singh decorated Darbar Sahib with gold, it is popularly known as Golden Temple. The parbandhaks have failed in putting the money raised in the gurdwaras to good use, rather they spend it for their political gain. 'Fayr ke agai rakhee-ai jit disai darbaar/ muhou ke bolan bolee-ai jit sun dharay pi-aar' - "So what offering can we place before Him, by which we might see the Darbar of His Court? What words can we speak to evoke His Love?" Perhaps the parbandhaks do not want to understand what is gurbani and what is seva?

11: Gurdip Chana (London, England), June 23, 2010, 7:05 PM.

Well, at least once the real leaders of Sikhi kick out these ignorant fools, we can remove the gold and sell it for a higher price! The gold value is going up each year; then we can spend it rightly! Just a lighter thought on this utterly stupid situation ... couldn't even express my disgust!

12: Gurwinder Singh (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), June 23, 2010, 7:16 PM.

I think, instead of just feeling disgusting about what is happening, let's start up a mass email/ letter campaign to the Delhi gurdwara committee members (DSGMC) about how we feel. Hopefully they will listen. I would also suggest, please do give them alternative suggestion(s) in your e-mails. Like funding education projects for less fortunate brothers and sisters, or funding environment related projects. You can find the DSGMC contact address from the following link:

13: Peejay (Canada), June 23, 2010, 7:36 PM.

Shame to you, DSGMC. Great ideas have been presented by all the readers of, but is anyone listening? I doubt it. Practice of Sikh values has been declining over the years due to these poor practices at most of our gurdwaras. Why not use this money to run some charitable hospitals and schools for the poor?

14: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, U.S.A.), June 23, 2010, 8:12 PM.

In addition to the above, if Sikh leaders and scholars of India, USA, UK and around the globe are reading this, they should discourage spending so much money on a gold wall in a gurdwara where the Eight Master helped people who were suffering from small pox. In the same Delhi, there are so many Sikhs who lost their homes, businesses and loved ones during the 1984 pogroms, particularly those who were already financially poor. The Delhi Gurdwara management is spending so much money for mere show off. I would like to request: 1) Sikh leaders around the world do not be silent watchers; please write to the Delhi Gurdwara; 2) Give the homeless Sikh victims of 1984 pogroms proper housing; 3) Give money to educate and train their kids; and 4) educate non-Sikh Indians about Sikhi and its universal values.

15: Raj (Canada), June 23, 2010, 11:19 PM.

Kur phiray pardan ve laalo ...

16: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), June 24, 2010, 12:29 AM.

Prof. Darshan Singh once said in his katha: 'remove the golak and the langar from a gurdwara and 90% of the sangat will be gone'. Before you jump to conclusions let's understand what this means - this means that less than 10% sangat comes to the gurdwara for real salvation, which needs neither the bhetaa (donation) nor the langar. When we deal with such skewed ratios, there are bound to be people like the SGPC and DSGMC scoundrels who like to control the show - these are modern-day mahants controlling the gurdwaras. So what can we do besides criticizing? Here are some thoughts and I do practice some of these. Stop putting large sums of money in the golak or giving to the gurdwara (even your local one) - if you need to give bhetaan to the Guru, go adopt a sincere organization like Nisham Seva, Pingalwara, etc., and support them, or adopt some local community programs or sponsor a local orphanage, take aatta, daal to the gurdwara instead of money (these are less likely to be misused). The idea is to root out evil at least passively if not actively. Let the gurdwara committees feel the credit crunch just as the banks in North America are feeling. When there is less liquid cash flowing about, almost all these so called sevadars will disappear and the money will be used for gurseva. So let's not criticize SGPC and DSGMC or local gurdwara committees - since we, by our activities, give rise to their moral corruption. Bhul chuk maaf.

17: Gursharan Singh (Hong Kong), June 24, 2010, 1:10 AM.

Can someone please organize some form of constructive protest to this absurd situation? The United Sikhs, perhaps? We have Sikh families and children who don't have enough to eat and/or afford education ... and then this! Waheguru ji, please give us wisdom and strength.

18: Taran (London, United Kingdom), June 24, 2010, 4:52 AM.

These Sarna brothers are a big blot on the Sikh community in Delhi just as the Badal thugs are in Panjab. There have been a number of incidents where you can see the Sarnas indulging in anti-panthic activities such as attending RSS events and honouring controversial leaders of Congress who took part in the 1984 pogroms. It is such a shame that the victims of 1984 pogroms are still living in hell. Thanks to these nakli Singhs of Delhi who are just busy filling their pockets with the golak money and making such controversial decisions as to build gold walls for the gurdwara sahib! This is utter nonsense by these mahants and brahmins!

19: Gur Singh (Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.), June 24, 2010, 7:59 AM.

Well, if I understood it right then, this might be just an attempt to look holier to bring DSGMC's authority at par with SGPC which controls the other Golden Temple. And, for all those people whose heart is burning for the 1984 victims, I really feel sad, as I am one of them. Unfortunately, the South Asian politicians aren't, because it seems as if they are busy planning more '84s. Because after the non-violent attempt of gold plating fails to challenge the authority of the Akal Takht, the DSGMC might need some more blood shed in the premises of its gurdwaras to make them more holy. As they rightly say, nothing is holier than blood.

20: Dr..Birinder Singh Ahluwalia (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 24, 2010, 8:11 AM.

All I am aware of is what I read in Grade 2: "All that glitters is not gold and all gold does not glitter" - every religion suffers from man-made problems as mankind has never been perfect. As much as grandeur, Sikhism itself, its values and its sacrifices are all built upon the faith's simplicity. Let the grand nature of it's worship places wow the world - it's a perfect mix - Humble but brave followers, grand worship places full of humility and purity.

21: Devinder Pal Singh (Delhi, India), June 25, 2010, 10:48 AM.

Sarna brothers have no foresight and are involved in mundane projects. For them, the only goal is to cling to power by latching on to the DSGPC. Guru Sahib only expects that the Sikhs follow the path which leads to the Almighty with simplicity and humility, not through exhibitionist methods. This money could be put to better use by providing the community world class medical facilities, world class education facilities and for the uplifting of the poor within the community. It could have been used for rehabilitating those that have become addicts and, as displayed by our Gurus in service of uplifting of the poor and the wayward, to give them a good and meaningful existence. Bangla Sahib was nowhere as big when Guru Harkrishan Sahib ji visited it. Many think that the decor is our way of celebrating Sikhi, but what does it serve? It's time that the Sikh masses insisted that gurdwaras' resources be put to good use. We only hope that sensibility prevails. This is keeping the Sikhs focused on gold and it has its repercussions through the increase in dowry demand, which in turn results in female foetecide. When will we realize our mistakes?

22: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, U.S.A.), June 25, 2010, 8:18 PM.

Thank you, Davinder Pal Singh ji, for your comments from India. As requested earlier to Sikh leaders and scholars, no one has come forward to say a single word to defend this waste of money. It appears they all worry about 'Loki kee kehan gae' - (What will the people will say?) - Every one wants to look good. God is great.

23: Pavan Chahal (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), July 12, 2010, 9:44 PM.

I think, we need to spend more money on the right causes like shelters for helpless people, orphans, schools and support the children who lost their parents in 1984 and lost hope and are less fortunate to enjoy the good things, education, clothes and families in life. Our Gurus taught us the lesson to live simply and live highly and live cleaner and brave lives. So I strongly think, instead of putting gold on the buildings, we should put golden thoughts in the hearts of those who have to hold the "waagdor" of Sikhism in the coming days.

24: Harpreet Singh (Hoshiarpur, Punjab), June 30, 2011, 2:12 PM.

Paramjit Singh ji: Wake up, do something worthwhile. Set an example of wisdom, not of ignorance. Broaden your own, and other people's vision. This will be called as foolishness in history. Invest in education, for example, not walls of gold.

25: Balvir Singh Sidhu (Punjab ), November 14, 2014, 9:59 AM.

This work is not for Bangla Sahib but to honour our Guru. But, of course, our following Guru's teachings is more important than anything else.

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