One of the things which I have griped about for many years is the lack of consciousness about preserving the art and history related to Sikhi in India. I feel that much of the times either the management of the Gurdwaras in India has become so focused on other things, or they are not cultured enough to understand the value of preservation of our History.
One particular area which I have seen no attention to was these beautiful fresco paintings which are all over the walls of the first few floors of Baba Attal Sahib Gurdwara in Amritsar. I remember photographing most of the paintings in the late 90’s and they were in decent condition. Then every consecutive visit to Amritsar I would visit the Gurdwara and see the paintings. Over the years I have seen them be neglected and deteriorate. I was shocked in recent visits to see all the paintings on the first floor destroyed and replaced with funky green bathroom tiles (with a khanda on it)…or totally whitewashed as if that made it nice. It’s sad to see this happen and realize that the people responsible for these things don’t see any issue with this. Maybe people in Punjab these days are not educated enough to appreciate and value art and cultural things (other than Bhangra). Maybe this is just the management, but I would hope that the locals especially would get involved with preservation.
I just saw an article about this issue on the Punjab Heritage website and was grateful to see that others are seeing the same issues and hoping to bring awareness to Sikhs. It is important that we realize what is at stake and speak out to the SGPC or whoever does these things to create a change. They need to realize that this is not right and unless we voice ourselves many of these historical works of art and places will be gone forever.
To read about this issue check out the news article from PunjabHeritage.org which shows pictures and outlines some of the issues. If you are visiting Punjab I hope everyone will take the chance to bring up this issue with SGPC and see what they say.