AMRITSAR – Volunteers of the Birmingham-based Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha on Thursday started the kar sewa at the Golden Temple here.
Golden Temple manager Jaswinder Singh Deenpur said about 25 volunteers of the jatha washed the gold-plated domes of the sanctum sanctorum with “reetha” water and lemon juice.
The jatha had cleaned the gold-plating of the shrine in 1999 and have been annually cleaning the domes to maintain its gleam since. “The cleaning process is done by them in the month of March. It is a 10-day process,” he said.
The reetha powder is boiled in water for at least three hours. Thereafter, mixing lemon juice into this, a liquid soap form is made which is used to clean the gold plating.
While doing sewa from 9 am to 6.30 pm, every care is taken to observe the sanctity of the shrine. During their work, they continue to chant ‘Waheguru Waheguru’ or listening to the gurbani kirtan performed inside the sanctum sanctorum.
The Maharaja Ranjit Singh-era gold plates lasted for over 150 years before they were replaced in 1999. The Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha was among the organisations that undertook the task of coating the shrine with fresh plates of gold. The work, started in February 1995, was completed in April 1999. However, after a few months, the gold varnish turned reddish. The jatha began the yearly sewa of cleaning the gold plating in 2000.
Normally, the shrine’s gold shell has been losing its sheen due to dust, vehicular and industrial pollution, besides mushrooming of hotels and dhabas and the coal-operated hearths located nearby. Also when it rains, a blackish layer normally settles on the gold plating due to air pollutants.
A continuous ambient air quality monitoring equipment has been installed at the Golden Temple complex which determines the real-time data of the pollution around the shrine. This equipment helps the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) to initiate preventive steps accordingly.