Although Queen Elizabeth during her visit to the Golden Temple in 1997 was given special permission by the SGPC to enter the sanctum sanctorum with her socks on but when an Australian lady wanted to enter into the temple with her clinically approved bandages on her feet, she wasn’t allowed to enter, giving the following reason –
according to Sikh tenets only a person with bare feet could enter the sanctum sanctorum
Even at religious places, democrats overpowers physically challenged devotees.
Here is the news –
The denial of entry to an Australian woman into the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple because she wore clinically approved bandages on her feet has embarrassed the Sikh community, especially diaspora Sikhs, and set off a heated debate on whether the holy place is friendly towards the disabled.
The incident took place last week and became public after Tom Simpson, the husband of Beverly, wrote a letter to Sikh priest in Australia, Dya Singh, and narrated his “grief, shock and anger” over the treatment. According to the letter, a ‘sevadar’ (a temple worker) apparently told Beverly that according to Sikh tenets only a person with bare feet could enter the sanctum sanctorum and she had to stay out because she had bandages on her feet, so what if it was due to a crippling illness.
Incidentally, Queen Elizabeth during her visit to the Golden Temple in 1997 was given special permission by the SGPC to enter the sanctorum with her socks on.
In his letter, Tom, who decided to visit the Golden Temple inspired by Dya Singh’s narratives on the shrine, wrote, “My wife and I, after hearing a number of your concerts and your views on your faith, decided to firstly research Sikhism and then decided, on impulse, to visit the Golden Temple on a pilgrimage last month.” He said because of her weak veins her feet swell up if not bandaged and caused pain. “This is probably only a small matter to you, but to us, it was like being cheated of paying our obeisance at one of the most sacred places on this planet.”
Dya Singh in his email response that has now become part of many Sikh websites lambasted the temple authorities and initiated a debate that how friendly Sikh shrines are to physically challenged devotees. Kiranjot Kaur, a former executive member of SGPC, said, “We must make provisions for such cases so that they are not repeated again.” SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said though sanctity of the Guru was of primary concern, a physically challenged person could not be denied the right to pray.
You can see hot debates running on major Sikh forums over this topic.