http://www.tribuneindia.com/2005/20050819/punjab1.htm Sikh clergy refuse to toe SGPC line Kirtan issue to be taken up again Varinder Walia Tribune News Service Amritsar, August 18 Despite a lot of pressure, the Sikh clergy today refused to toe the line of the SGPC for giving a final nod to baptised Sikh women for performing kirtan in the sanctum sanctorum of Harmandar Sahib. It is learnt that Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC President, personally spoke to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht for constituting a committee for a code of conduct for women who wish to perform kirtan and clean the sanctum sanctorum. Mr Waryam Singh, secretary dharm parchar, Mr Harbir Singh Bhanwar, media adviser, and Mr Harjit Singh, personal assistant to the SGPC chief, took the typed paper to Jathedar Vedanti but he refused to sign the paper. However, after the initial hiccups, the Sikh clergy today gave clear indications that gender discrimination had no place in Sikhism and hence the case regarding allowing baptised Sikh women to perform kirtan in the sanctum sanctorum of Harmandar Sahib would again be taken up at the next meeting, being convened shortly. In a written release, issued late in the evening, Jathedar Vedanti said the issue needed a marathon discussion. However, he said except for kirtan and cleaning of the sanctum sanctorum, women had been performing religious ‘seva’. Earlier, after the meeting of the Sikh clergy, Jathedar Vedanti told mediapersons that no decision could be taken up regarding allowing women to perform kirtan. Interestingly, in the evening senior officials of the SGPC rang up journalists stating that the Sikh high priests had ‘agreed in principle’ to allow Sikh women to perform kirtan. However, Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu , non-official personal assistant to the Jathedar, Akal Takht, claimed that no such decision was taken. It is reliably learnt that the Sikh high priests are divided over taking a ‘hasty’ decision on this important matter concerning the entire community. While a section of the Damdami Taksal and the Sant Samaj (headed by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi) had openly opposed the move, the SGPC chief is eager to ensure a final nod by the Sikh clergy on the plea that gender discrimination could not be allowed as per Sikh tenets. The Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC has already given its approval to allow baptised women to perform kirtan in the sanctum sanctorum. However, Giani Gurbachan Singh, Head Granthi, Darbar Sahib, had stated that only the high priests were authorised to take a final decision on such matters. Interestingly, the Religious Advisory Committee of the SGPC had passed a resolution on March 9, 1940, to allow baptised Sikh women to perform Kirtan, which could not be implemented for various reasons. Later, five Sikh high priests had directed the SGPC to allow baptised Sikh women to perform ‘seva’ in the sanctum sanctorum of Harmandar Sahib on February 9, 1996, which was also opposed by a section of the Sikh Panth.