Sikh News Charles And Camilla Make Hair-raising Visit To Sikh Temple (Hello!)

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Charles and Camilla make hair-raising visit to Sikh temple (Hello!)
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Tue, 14 Mar 2006 10:47:11 GMT
Prince Charles ' wife isn't normally the sort to get squeamish, but even the Duchess of Cornwall couldn't help covering her eyes when she watched Sikh swordsman Uptej Sigh strut his stuff on Monday afternoon.
 

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Surely that man with the sword isn't. . . oh yes he is
By Jonathan Petre
(Filed: 14/03/2006)
As a relative newcomer to the Royal Family, the Duchess of Cornwall can be forgiven for still being shocked by the often wonderful and bizarre sights that go with official duties.
However, even such an old hand as her husband looked mildly alarmed at the sight of a blindfolded Sikh swordsman slicing through a melon on a man's stomach.
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Camilla covers her eyes as the blindfolded swordsman...But the hair-raising climax of a spectacular martial arts display laid on for the royal couple proved too much to bear for the duchess.
As the critical moment approached, to the roll of drums, she held her hands over her face and averted her eyes.
Even the Prince of Wales gripped the arm of his chair as the scimitar flashed.
In the event, the melon was halved with perfect precision and the man on the floor rose to reveal he had not received a scratch.
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... slices clean through a melon resting on a collegues chestThe blindfolded swordsman, Uptej Singh, a 42-year-old IT engineer who had warmed up by slicing bananas held by his colleagues, later made the prince laugh when he advised him: "Don't try this at home."
The event marked the festival of Hola Mahalla, when Sikhs practise military exercises and stage mock battles to emphasise their warrior credentials.
The couple, who go to India in a fortnight, were visiting the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Hounslow, west London, to mark Commonwealth Day.
After the display, the prince joked: "I'm so glad that the Health and Safety Executive have managed to clear the way in which this extraordinary demonstration was carried out."
The visit to the Gurdwara began predictably enough.
The couple arrived at the temple to be greeted by hundreds of excited schoolchildren waving Union flags. They were given garlands of white flowers to wear.
Inside the temple, they removed their shoes and put on headgear as they briefly visited the prayer room to pay respect to the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib.
At the end of the visit, they sat down to watch the traditional Sikh martial art, Gatka - which dates from the early 17th century - performed by the Baba Fateh Singh Gatka Akhara, from Leyton, east London.
The 14-strong group, whose youngest member was only five, demonstrated Gatka moves with sticks. Then more experienced members staged mock duels with large ceremonial swords called kirpans.
The team, whose members include a chiropractor, an engineer, a police officer and a teacher, travel the world demonstrating the ancient art.
Gatka was originally practised by the Sikhs in the Punjab to defend themselves against the Mogul invaders.
According to its adherents, it is so effective that when the Golden Temple was attacked in 1984 by the Indian Army, four Sikh warriors stood at the doors swinging their swords in a Gatka movement and no Indian soldier could get close to them.
A few hours later the prince and the duchess attended a more conventional religious service in Westminster Abbey, where the most dramatic event was provided by the Bromley Valley Jets gymnastic display team.
They joined a congregation of more than 2,000 for a colourful ceremony to mark Commonwealth Day.
During the multi-faith service six affirmations were read out, including pledges to care for the world and to celebrate faith and love.
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