Nitish announces three-day holiday for Sikh celebrations

State government to spend Rs 100 crore on events for Guru Govind Singh's 350th Prakash Parv

By Dev Raj
  • Published 16.09.16
A screen grab of the website set up for the celebrations,

Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday declared a three-day public holiday in January 2017 to mark the 350th Prakash Parv or birth anniversary of Guru Govind Singh, the tenth and last Sikh guru.

Lakhs of pilgrims and tourists are expected to converge in Patna to participate in the festivities. The holiday would start January 3.

"There will be a huge gathering in Patna for three days. It will be public holiday on these days. Proper arrangements will be made for the people at all places in the city. Their religious sentiments will be taken care of and we will celebrate the occasion in a grand scale," Nitish said.

He also announced that the Gurdwara in Rajgir, where Guru Nanak had stayed and the cold water spring, will be developed by the tourism department.

The chief minister was speaking after launching a website hosted by the tourism department, which is the nodal agency for the festivities, to provide all information about travel to Patna, stay arrangements, and preparations for the occasion and programme schedule.

"We have been preparing for the prakash parv for the past one year. The website will help devotees in reaching Patna and the stay. Those who come here from all over the world should return satisfied. The work has been distributed among various departments and officials and they are on the job," he added.

Guru Govind Singh, the 10th and last guru of the Sikhs, was born in Patna on December 22, 1666. The place where he was born is now marked as Takht Shri Harmandir Sahib or Patna Sahib.

The Bihar government will spend Rs 100 crore on the arrangements and the celebrations will start from December 30 this year and continue till January 8 next year. The main function will be distributed over three days starting January 3.

Tourism department principal secretary Harjot Kaur said at least 3 to 4 lakh pilgrims are expected on each of the three main days of prakash parv and efforts are on to ensure they do not face any difficulty during their stay.

"We are getting lots of requests and feelers from visitors from all over the world, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand. The celebrations are being held here during winter, which is considered a tourist season," Harjot said.

Tents will be put up at Kangan Ghat near Harmandir Sahib, Gandhi Maidan and other places. Hotels, dormitories and home stay options will also be available for the visitors.

"The three-day public holiday announced by the chief minister will be restricted to Patna, but it might be extended for the entire state. In any case, the birthday of Guru Govind Singh (which falls on January 5) is always a public holiday," Harjot said.

The state government is organising an international Sikh conclave from September 22 to 24, to which 250 eminent scholars from all over the world have been invited, with an intention to publicise and create an environment for the birth anniversary celebrations.

Tourism director Umashankar Prasad told The Telegraph that Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, minister of state for agriculture and farmer welfare S.S. Ahluwalia, Canadian minister for national defence Harjit Sajjan will attend the conclave. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also expected to take part in it.

"The conclave will deliberate on several topics or themes on the life of Guru Govind, including his poetry skills, championing of the rights of the people, spirituality, love for human beings and also the contribution of the Sikhs to the nation," Umashankar said.

The state government has also invited former chief secretary J.S. Kang to coordinate the birth anniversary celebrations.