PM prays at the Golden Temple (Second Lead, superseding previous story)

March 24th, 2009 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Amritsar, March 24 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, Tuesday morning visited Harmandar Sahib, the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple, to offer thanksgiving prayers for his successful heart surgery.
The prime minister, wearing a grey jacket over white kurta-pyjama, reached the shrine at daybreak amid tight security.

Sewadars of the shrine and security personnel walked with him as he went around the sacred pond around the shrine.

He was offered a saffron scarf as ’siropa’ by the clerics inside the shrine and he wore it around his neck. He sat down inside the shrine with closed eyes and folded hands for nearly 30 minutes to listen to the ‘gurbani’ and ‘ardas’ (prayers).

Looking relaxed, the prime minister went through the rituals at the shrine like any ordinary devotee. He bowed before the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib while paying obeisance at the shrine.

The prime minister was also joined by Avtar Singh Makkar, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the mini-parliament of Sikhs that manages gurdwaras, including the Harmandar Sahib.

The prime minister’s wife, her head covered with a dupatta, sat in a separate enclosure inside the shrine with women devotees.

This was Manmohan Singh’s first trip outside New Delhi after he underwent a coronary bypass surgery Jan 24 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Curious devotees were seen trying to catch a glimpse of the prime minister while he entered and exited the shrine.

Manmohan Singh remained inside the Golden Temple complex for over 50 minutes. He later went to the nearby Hindu shrine, the Durgiana temple.

The prime minister kept his entire visit to this Sikh holy city private.

He also met his relatives who are settled in this city. Manmohan Singh’s family had settled in Amritsar after migrating from a village near Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan) after India’s partition in August 1947.

Tight security arrangements were in place in the city since Monday evening after the prime minister arrived in a special Indian Air Force aircraft at Amritsar’s Rajasansi airport.

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