Recently, a video emerged online where a girl with tricolor painted on her cheek was refused entry into the Golden Temple in Amritsar. In the video, one of the staffers at Durbar Sahib is seen in a confrontation with the girl and a man and appears to say that she was denied entry as she had a tricolor on her face. He is also heard saying “This isn’t India, it’s Punjab”. The video caused a massive outrage online and went viral. The controversy snowballed into a huge issue for Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and they had to step in to douse the fire. SGPC apologised for the incident and said that it has started an investigation into the matter and said that some nefarious elements are deliberately giving a wrong twist to the matter to malign the image of Sikhs.
Later, as the video continued to spread on social media, the guard said that the girl was denied entry because her legs weren’t covered. Many commentators online were quick to point out to the video and said that his statement now doesn’t appear to conform to what he said before. SGPC spokesperson later also said that the flag on her face was not tricolor as it did not have Ashoka Chakra in it and it could instead be the symbol of a political party. The General Secretary of SGPC, Gurcharan Singh Grewal, also reacted to the controversy. He said that as per the prevailing policy, there is no discrimination against any devotees. He said that people of all backgrounds, caste or religion are welcome.
The Code of Conduct for Entering Harmandir Sahib:
There is certain dress code that the devotees must adhere to such as covering their head properly and to avoid wearing revealing clothing. A person also cannot carry intoxicants of any kind inside the premises. But there is no prohibition of any kind on displaying national symbols or even political symbols.
Prohibition of tricolor a slippery slope?
Because it establishes a precedent for excluding people based on their beliefs or affiliations, banning entrance to a religious place because of the exhibition of a national symbol can be considered as a slippery slope. The girl in the video was not seen acting improperly or disrespectfully in this situation, therefore the rule seemed arbitrary and unwarranted. Furthermore, as it inhibits people's freedom of expression and association, banning national emblems from religious locations may be considered inappropriate. Displaying national symbols may be a significant means for people to express their sense of self and national pride. This could create a sense of division and can be considered against the all-inclusive character of Harmadir Sahib. The Golden Temple has four doors or entrances, which symbolize the openness and inclusivity of Sikhism. These entrances are located on the four sides of the temple, representing that the temple is open to people from all directions, all walks of life, and all faiths. The concept of four doors is based on a Sikh belief that every human being is equal and should be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their race, caste, gender, or religion.