Sikhs keep alive tradition of Nishan Sahib

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Amritsar, Feb.28 (ANI): The tradition of installing the 'Nishan Sahib,' or the flag pole carrying the Sikh flag that was started by the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, is still alive in all Gurdwaras in and around the world.

The Nishan Sahib had initially served the purpose of indicating the presence of a gurdwara and, being fairly high, was visible to itinerant pilgrims from a distance. It later became a religious symbol.

The background colour of the Nishan Sahib during the early phase of Sikh history was white. Its colour was changed, from white to saffron, by Guru Hargobind.

It was hoisted for the first time at Akal Takhat Sahib in the year 1609 CE. It is believed that the change in the colour of the flag was meant to suggest the golden colour of the holiest site of the Sikh religion, the Harmandir Sahib, which was completed in 1604 CE.

The Nishan Sahib is placed outside every Sikh Gurdwara and is supported by a pole of timber or metal. The belief is that if the Nishan Sahib is not placed outside any gurdwara, the place cannot be called a gurdwara.

The Khanda, a Sikh symbol, is rendered in blue on the saffron background. It is placed high up on a flagpole as a sign for all Sikhs and others to tell that they can come and pray in this building.

Great respect is shown to this flag which is shown by washing it with milk and water every year in April during the festival of Baisakhi.

The cloth that adorns the Nishan Sahib is changed whenever a devotee makes an offering of the yellow or saffron cloth, usually made of satin material.

A sevadar or volunteer is elevated high through a winch to change the cloth or 'chola.' By Ravinder Singh Robin (ANI)

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