United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday visited Amritsar’s Golden Temple complex, where the holiest of Sikh shrines Harmandir Sahib is located. He paid obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar and was honoured with a siropa by the Sikh priest.
A siropa is placed around the neck but is intended to be worn on the head as a dastaar (turban).
“I want to express my deep respect for the religion of the Sikh people and this wonderful Golden Temple, in which the spirit of peace and tolerance is present. I prayed here as a Catholic but, all people, from all religions in the world, can pray in this holy place,” Guterres said.
“There are unfortunately not many temples in the world where this is possible, and this makes me feel very happy to be here and very proud to be invited. And, at the same time, it increases my admiration for the Sikh communities everywhere: the Sikh community in India, the Sikh community in my part of the world, in Europe, in North America, everywhere where Sikhs are contributing to the development of our world,” he added.
During his visit to the Golden Temple, Guterres was accompanied by Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
He also visited the community kitchen at the Golden Temple, where he keenly watched the cooking process and participated in ‘langar’.
“I paid tribute to the Sikh community worldwide and I express my deep respect for this holy place where all religions are accepted in a wonderful,” he wrote in the visitor book of Golden Temple.
After reaching the shrine, he was received by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Gobind Singh Longowal and SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh.
Guterres had reached the Shri Guru Ramdas International Airport near Amritsar from Delhi in a special aircraft of the Indian Air Force.
He was received at the airport by Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Punjab government Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh.
At the Golden Temple, he was also honoured with a woollen shawl, replica of Golden Temple and set of Sikh religious books by SGPC president Longowal.
(With agency inputs)