Amritsar goes ahead with plans to welcome ObamaOctober 20th, 2010 - 3:37 pm ICT by IANS
Amritsar, Oct 20 (IANS) There may be uncertainty about US President Barack Obama visiting the Golden Temple, but Punjab’s ‘holy city’ is going ahead with plans to roll out the red carpet — security is being intensified, a cleanliness drive is on and gurdwara authorities say they have no problems in what he uses to cover his head as long as it has no metal.
Amid reports that the US president may skip Amritsar over worries about the possible fallout back home of being seen as a Muslim with a scarf around his head during his visit to the Sikh shrine, community leaders and administration officials here said they were optimistic the trip would go through.
Obama, officials said, is scheduled to visit the Golden Temple and Khalsa College in Amritsar Nov 7 during his first visit to India as the US president.
According to the schedule officials here are going by, Obama will arrive in Amritsar from Mumbai Nov 7 and visit the Golden Temple and offer prayers at Harmandar Sahib, the sanctum sanctorum. He will be here for three hours, including about 40 minutes at the shrine.
“We have so far not received any intimation about the cancellation of Obama’s visit to Amritsar. We have beefed up security in the entire area and a massive cleanliness drive is also on,” K.S. Pannu, deputy commissioner of Amritsar, told IANS.
He is also looking at the possibility of closing shops in and around the Golden Temple.
“Nobody has requested us to close the shops for two days. We know that it is a weekend when there is huge rush, so we probably can order the closure of the shops for few hours.”
Authorities at the Golden Temple are also going ahead with plans to welcome the first African American president of the US.
“As far as our knowledge goes, Obama is coming to Golden Temple on Nov 7 and there is no change in his programme. I do not think there could be any problem or controversy regarding this. He can cover his head with a cap, cloth or scarf… that is without any metal substance,” Giani Gurbachan Singh, jathedar (head priest) of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikh religion, told IANS.
“We only need to maintain the sanctity of Sikh religion and there are certain rules that everyone has to follow,” he pointed out.
Avtar Singh Makkar, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which manages the shrine, said it was a matter of great pride that Obama would visit.
“This is the matter of great pride for the whole Sikh community that the US president is visiting our holiest shrine. Why should we raise any objection with the ways of covering his head. He is free to do it as per his own discretion in whichever way he feels comfortable,” he said.
“Countless non-Sikhs, from across the world, pay obeisance at Golden Temple everyday but we have never raised any objections over the style of covering their heads.”
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- 'Headgear issue will be sorted out for Obama's Golden Temple visit' - Oct 19, 2010
- Obama's Golden Temple visit: Punjab seeks PM's help (Lead) - Oct 23, 2010
- Obama wearing a cap for Golden Temple visit is no issue: SGPC - Oct 19, 2010
- Obama's Golden Temple visit: Punjab seeks PM's help - Oct 23, 2010
- Visit a Delhi gurdwara, Sikh leader to Obama - Oct 28, 2010
- Perturbed Sikh diaspora request Obama not to call off Amritsar visit - Oct 20, 2010
- Obama to visit Golden Temple, college in Amritsar - Oct 15, 2010
- Disappointed Indian Sikhs urge Obama to at least visit Delhi Gurudwara - Nov 03, 2010
- Sikh Americans disappointed at Obama skipping Golden Temple - Nov 01, 2010
- Obama's upcoming visit to Golden Temple will boost Sikhs image: Diaspora - Sep 16, 2010
- Sikh Americans campaign for Obama trip to Amritsar (Lead) - Oct 22, 2010
- Canadian PM to pay obeisance at Golden Temple - Nov 18, 2009
- Obama skipping Golden Temple in Time's 'Top 10 Religion Stories' - Dec 14, 2010
- Sikh Americans not buying Obama excuse for skipping Amritsar - Oct 28, 2010
Tags: administration officials, american president, barack obama, cancellation, cleanliness drive, community leaders, controversy, deputy commissioner, fallout, golden temple, holy city, intimation, mumbai, pannu, prayers, punjab, red carpet, sanctum sanctorum, scarf, worries