Chandigarh, May 1 (PTI) Amid the COVID-19 restrictions, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday virtually joined the people in offering prayers to mark the 400th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Tegh Bahadur.
The chief minister prayed for the safety and well-being of all people in the challenging pandemic situation and exhorted them to follow Guru's universal message of love, secularism, religious tolerance, freedom of faith and peaceful co-existence.
Calling it an occasion to spread the message of Guru Sahib's supreme sacrifice for the sake of humanity and religious freedom, he said the life and philosophy of the ninth Guru remains a beacon of inspiration for the world.
Singh said he was extremely blessed to lead his government, in its previous tenure, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib at Harmandir Sahib in 2004, Amritsar, and in constructing memorials, including one dedicated to '40 Mukte' (Liberated Ones) at Sri Muktsar Sahib, and several commemorative gates at Fatehgarh Sahib.
'We have also been fortunate to celebrate the 550th 'Prakash Purb' of Guru Nanak Dev and 350th 'Prakash Purb' of Guru Gobind Singh during our present tenure,' an official release quoting Singh said.
The chief minister said the state government had made elaborate arrangements to celebrate this mega event with 'Nagar Kirtan' (religious procession) from Guru Ka Mahal (Amritsar) to Anandpur Sahib, and 'Akhand Path' and 'Kirtan Darbar' at Anandpur Sahib.
It had also planned to hold an exhibition on the life and teachings of Guru Tegh Bahadur, an exhibition on handicrafts, a Punjabi literary festival, drama (Hind-di-Chadar), a sports event, multimedia light and sound show and a Sufi Music festival, he said.
However, the second wave of COVID forced a change in plans and these events are now being held in virtual format to avoid large gatherings and ensure public safety.
Singh said as and when the situation improves during the year-long celebrations, grand events will be held on the ground to commemorate the historic occasion.
The chief minister dedicated several development projects to the people on this occasion, including conservation and development of old jail at Bassi Pathana where the ninth Guru, along with his supporters, was imprisoned by Noor Mohammad Khan Mirza for 40 days while he was reportedly on his way to meet Emperor Aurangzeb.
He said the state government had sent a detailed memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a grant of Rs 938.37 crore for infrastructure projects in the state as a part of the historic celebrations.
He also announced a facelift of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Museum and Sri Anandpur Sahib at a cost of Rs 2 crore, with illumination of its façade and modernisation of the first floor with advanced technology, while retaining the original concept of exhibition of paintings at the ground floor.
The museum was built in 1977 and is situated near Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib. It is the only museum in Punjab on Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib.
A nature park will be developed in the vicinity of Virasat-e-Khalsa, Sri Anandpur Sahib, at a cost of Rs 10 crore, he announced, adding that it will be spread over 62 acres of land with extensive tree plantation. It will be developed as a habitat for rare species of flora and is likely to be commissioned by the end of the year.
The chief minister also announced that Government of India will soon release a commemorative stamp on the 400th Prakash Purb of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib.
Meanwhile, devotees paid obeisance at gurdwaras, including the Golden Temple in Amritsar, on the occasion of 'Parkash purb' of the ninth Sikh guru.
They started assembling at gurdwaras in the morning to offer prayers. PTI CHS VSD AAR AAR