Singh said he was child when the Queen visited the shrine where she was presented with a traditional robe of honour…writes Vishal Gulati
Residents of this holy town in Punjab on Friday fondly remembered the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the holiest of the Sikh shrines, Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as Golden Temple, to pay homage as a devotee in 1997.
Then the Queen’s itinerary also included visit to the monument of Jallianwala Bagh that serves as a remembrance of the indiscriminate killing of unarmed people on April 13, 1919, which was Baisakhi. They had gathered there to protest against the colonial administration.
“Donning her trademark hat, the Queen elegantly took the ‘parikrama’ of the Golden Temple before praying at the sanctum sanctorum during her visit to the gurdwara,” Rajinder Singh, a security in-charge in the Golden Temple, said.
Singh said he was child when the Queen visited the shrine where she was presented with a traditional robe of honour.
He said his father was working as a ‘sewadar’ and he was accompanying him during Queen Elizabeth’s visit.
“Since the devotees are not allowed to wear socks inside the gurdwara, a special provision was granted by the SGPC to the Queen to wear white socks and gloves,” a gurdwara functionary said.
Accompanying then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Queen also elegantly ate the ‘karah parsad’ and greeted members of Sikh community at the Golden Temple, he said.
She greeted devotees with folded hands while scores of visitors were lined up to see her closely.
The Queen was also honoured by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), said the functionary.
Sharing photos of the Queen’s memorable visit to the Golden Temple along with his father, Shiromani Akali Dal President President Sukhbir Badal tweeted: “Queen Elizabeth II was a remarkable monarch whose life epitomised dignity & service to her country & extended family of Commonwealth nations.
“She will be remembered for her outstanding leadership & inspirational life. Condolences to the Royal family & the people of the UK.”
“May waheguru bless her and her successor,” remarked an emotional Dalbir Kaur, an octogenarian resident of Amritsar.
“Though Queen Elizabeth II had never apologised for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, but her visit somehow provide solace to the families of those who sacrificed their lives for the nation,” added another resident Gurdev Sachdeva.
He said it was only during the visit to India in 1997 the Queen talked about the “difficult episodes” of colonial history and called the Jallianwala Bagh massacre “a distressing example”.
“That gave a solace to the martyred families,” he added.
“It is no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past. Jallianwala Bagh is a distressing example,” the Queen noted in her banquet address.
She also placed wreaths at the Jallianwala Bagh memorial amidst calls for an official apology for the killings during the colonial rule.