By Jagmohan Singh
AMRITSAR: Punjab Governor Shivraj V Patil today said that the state government has initiated several projects to develop Punjab especially holy city of Amritsar as a world class tourist destination.
Addressing the gathering after inaugurating two day International Sufi festival here today, the Governor said that realizing well the cultural and historical importance of this holy city the state government was making concerted efforts to develop it as a world class city. Urging the city residents to contribute towards making the city a clean, beautiful and tourist friendly, Mr Patil said that it was the duty of all the Punjabis to preserve this rich heritage of the state.
Congratulating the foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature, Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board and Khalsa College for organizing this Sufi Festival in Amritsar, Governor said that Sufi thought has impacted the cultures for several countries across the world.
Mr Patil said that the love of God and love of the Gurus has been expressed in song, dance, poetry and literature adding that he was happy to see that this festival aims to capture all these forms. He further said that Sufism has impacted southern & eastern Europe, North and central Africa, the Middle East, China and our own country in a number of ways. Emphasizing on the need of spreading the Sufi message of love, tolerance and unity of God, the Governor said that it was the need of the hour because it inspires us to renounce violence and aggression thereby contributing towards constructing a harmonious society. Welcoming the participants from 13 countries, Mr Patil said hoped that this festival would continue in coming years year and more countries would participate in it.
Presiding over the function, the Punjab Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal announced that the state government would soon establish a state of Art an International Centre for research in Sufism here in the holy city to propagate the values of humanism, harmony, peace and universal brotherhood. He said that this centre would be exclusively devoted for in-depth research in Sufism to herald a new era of love, friendship, mutual trust and amity through socio-cultural exchange programs transcending the geographical barriers. Mr Badal also announced that this upcoming centre would hold such mega sufi concerts every year adding that the state government would extend all support for organizing this International Sufi festival annually.
Badal said that the essence of Sufism proclaims that the only way to love the Almighty, is to love all his creation in all its manifestations. He said that Punjab being the land of Sufism and of Sufis had always been a cradle on universal brotherhood and peace. The Chief Minister further said that on its part the SAD-BJP government of the state has made stupendous efforts to promote peace, communal harmony, amity and brotherhood adding that it was indeed a matter of pride for them that with the active support of the people, Punjab today has emerged as the epicenter of spreading the fragrance of universal brotherhood throughout the world. Tracing the influence of Sufism on Sikhism, he said that Sufi saints like Baba Farid had spread the message of humanism, spirituality and oneness of god based on the principles of love, compassion, equality, humility, brotherhood and freedom which were very similar to the tenets of Sikhism.
The Chief Minister said that the bani of a large number of Sufi saints had been enshrined in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib which reflects affinity between Sikhism and Sufism. He further said that Sufism had the power that it could eliminate hostile images by showing that true belief could wipe out the demarcations of 'mine' and 'thine', and pave way for constructing a world that is 'ours.' Mr Badal further said that by spreading a message of peace and love Sufism creates a voice for secularism and composite culture. The Chief Minister hoped that the deliberations in the Academic Session of the Festival, in which 30 International Sufi Scholars, 25 International Poets, 50 Sufi musicians, singers and dancers from 13 countries were participating, would focus on tolerance, human values, love of futuristic dreams and a consciousness for love and Compassion that Sufism creates and advocates, thereby ensuring more co-operation and love in the Indian Sub continent.
The Chief Minister also called upon the need for holding such cultural meets frequently to further foster the bonds of friendship, goodwill, mutual trust and harmony especially amongst the people of India and Pakistan which share a common cultural bondage having lingual and socio-cultural similarity. Highly appreciated the efforts of the state government in organizing this grand Sufi meet, Mr Badal said that it would offer memorable moments to the audience to listen the great classical works of eminent Sufi singers. He hoped such events were far more meaningful in today’s stressful life to relieve the mankind from the monotonous routine in which a person works like a component of a machine. Mr Badal said such cultural programs help to soothe the body and mind besides rejuvenating a new spirit to work with much more vigor and enthusiasm.
The Chief Minister also announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the organizers of the festival.