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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
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Things to do in India

Ceremonial pomp in the glittering eve

When the holy scripture reaches its bedroom, a huge fanfare erupts…

By Mahendra Singh Chouhan
Tour Guide in Amritsar and Shimla

To visit the Golden Temple only during the day does not do justice to this beautiful temple. At night, the highlight is very much the palki ceremony – the process of carrying the scripture from its shrine where it has stood all day, up to its bedroom to rest. Palki ceremonies are performed in every Sikh temple, but this location is one of the most important, like Mecca is for Muslims or the Ganges is for Hindus. Because Sikhism as a religion is relatively young, its followers treat their holy scripture as a live guru – quite literally like you and me. So, you can imagine that emotions run high.

To experience this, we get there half an hour early to position ourselves in the best spot before the large crowds arrive. Then it begins. A beautiful gold palanquin, once used to carry royal ladies of court, is elaborately decorated with flower garlands and incense. Then volunteers – sometimes up to 12 people – hoist the palanquin onto their shoulders, collect the scripture and carry it towards the temple while chanting. The procession passes over the bridge and shimmering pool of holy water. When the book reaches the gate, a huge fanfare of trumpets and beating drums erupts from the crowd, as if a maharaja were returning to his palace. From there, it is lifted into its bedroom where it will spend the night until the next morning when the ceremony is reversed, and the book will return to its shrine. It’s an entirely different experience backdropped by the temple’s illuminated gold-leaf facades. There’s not one dark corner. It glitters and shines as bright as day. 

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Alfred & Mahendra Singh Chouhan

Mahendra has worked as a freelance tour guide in North India since 2007. He loves his job which allows him to interact with different people from all over the world, something he finds personally enriching. He is passionate about welcoming guests to his home country, introducing the heritage and cultural values with warmth and enthusiasm.

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