Waking up on the first day of my trip in the city of Amritsar, I was first aware of the coolness of the air. This is what winters are supposed to feel like, I thought to myself. What a pleasant contrast to the weather that we're accustomed to in Mumbai! Outside the window, fog hung over the city like a vast, thick veil and the sun's rays lost their way in the whitened haze. On a morning like this, there's nothing better than a hearty, generous and mouth-watering Punjabi breakfast ; parathas and kulchas drenched in ghee with some piping-hot masala chai! Food is Punjab's prime identity after all.
Besides their traditional delicacies, Punjab is most commonly associated (by almost any Indian) with the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of Sikhs. The moment you take your first glance at this marvellous heritage structure, you are bound to be awestruck by its grandeur. A sense of spirituality emanates from every corner of the premises and a continuous devotional chant (from the Guru Granth Sahib) can be heard at all times.
Devotees of all ages take a spiritual dip in the icy cold water of the Amrit Sarovar, an action that embodies their staunch faith. Hospitality is an attribute strongly promoted by the Sikh religion. 100,000 people are fed on an average every day, free of cost, at the Guru ka Langar which is a perfect manifestation of their charitable nature.
We were lucky enough to witness their hospitable nature once again at Tarsem Singh’s house in the district of Tarn Taran Sahib during our village visit. The family extended a warm welcome towards us and planned for us a fantastic day revolving around their daily routine. They started with a turban tying ceremony, drove us around their sarson ke khet on a tractor, helped us master the game of gilli danda and much more.
By the end of our trip I was convinced about one thing for sure - no person in Punjab is going to go to bed feeling hungry or lonely, because in this place, everyone is welcome. The Sikhs believe any guest to be equivalent to God ; their actions and charitable nature is a true testament to their belief.
It’s the people that make the cities, I believe and hence it’s the people of Punjab that bestow upon it, its glorious charm!