To S. Sukhbir Singh Badal,
Government of Punjab.
Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki fateh!
We hope this email finds you in the best of times and health !!
We want to make to you a request and hope that with your kind intervention this will be possible. This is concerning the Yatra of Tap Asthaan Sri Hemkunt Sahib. We all know that Sri Hemkunt Sahib is very pious and divine place on earth.
I visited Sri Hemkunt Sahib in 2012. We did our entire Yatra by foot. On the way to Sri Hemkunt Sahib, Sangat is always doing Paathh, Simran, Kirtan etc whether they go on foot or on horsebacks. Paathh of Japuji Sahib, Chaupai Sahib, Simran, Kirtan is being done by almost everyone on the way.
As you must be aware, the journey starts from Sri Gobind Ghat. Sri Gobind Dham is the next stop and the final journey is from Sri Gobind Dham to Tap Asthaan Sri Hemkunt Sahib. All these parts (or legs) of the journey are an absolutely great and divine experience. One forgets the worries of the world and gets in tune with divinity with all the divine vibrations of this entire area.
I want to share my experience on the way. The whole journey, as I mentioned is full of joy and divine feelings.
However there is an issue that I want to share with you. We look forward to your kind attention and help in the matter.
Before I go on, I would like to mention that there are many people there who operate the horses. Many of them also carry people on their backs, which are called “Kaandis” in Punjabi / Hindi. They even carry our luggage bags! These people, in my opinion are blessed people who do sewa of the Sangat on the way. They are usually native people of that area, who I think, we may call “Pahaarhis”. They have been doing this Sewa (ofcourse they are paid to do that job) for many many years, perhaps the time when Sri Hemkunt Sahib was discovered by Bhai Veer Singh ji, Sant Modan Singh ji and their team in the 1930s.
That having said, I would like to share my experience on the way. As I was walking on the way from Sri Gobind Ghat to Sri Gobind Dham, a horse- operator (the workers which I mentioned above) was smoking cigarettes. This was an absolute distasteful experience on my trip to Sri Hemkunt Sahib. All the ambience and the environment that we were entitled to at Sri Hemkunt Sahib, got polluted when, Sangat reciting Bani or Simran on the way, was made to smell the fumes of tobacco and cigarettes.
I halted to talk to this horse-operator. I asked him that why at such a divine place was he smoking. He did not care for my feelings at all. All he said was that this is what we do. And to my shock and total dismay, this person also told me in Hindi ” Bhai Sahib humko mat bolo iss baat key leeai……Hamarey kuchh lok to Dhaam Sahib key neechey bhi beerhee cigarette pee letey hai” ….By “Dhaam key neechey” he meant the place with Sri Hemkunt Sahib’s stairs start. Basically, for simplicity, we can say at the very spot where Sri Hemkunt Sahib is !!
People go to spiritual places like Sri Hemkunt Sahib to escape the mundane life and the pressures of the world. If at those places, people are allowed to smoke, it becomes a highly upsetting matter.
We need your help in this matter. This is spoiling the whole environment of spirituality there !! No one should have the right to smoke in such a Great Godly divine place!! This is the place where Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji Sache Patshah meditated for such a long time. It is an absolutely and highly divine, pious and pavitar place. Sikhs are entitled to a non-smoking environment anyway. All communities respect this place.
We request the Government of Punjab to lobby with the Government of Uttarakhand or U.P. to make smoking banned between Sri Gobind Ghat and Sri Hemkunt Sahib. An absolute no-tolerance ban on smoking should additionally be imposed near and at Sri Hemkunt Sahib!!
We request you to kindly look into this matter and bring the needful changes. The entire Sikh Sangat and other wider communities will be endebted to you for this noble change.
We are copying this email to Hemkunt Trust and other Sikh organizations for reference and for all to know the stated considerations. We look forward to the changes that have been requested.