Amritsar: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, accompanied by his wife and two children, offered prayers at the Golden Temple on Wednesday, underlining the significance of the large Sikh and Punjabi community setatled in Canada. Trudeau and his family landed at the Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport here from Mumbai and headed straight for the shrine to offer prayers.
Wearing an off-white kurta-pyjama and head covered with a “kesari” (saffron) headscarf, Trudeau entered the Golden Temple complex with wife Sophie, who was wearing a turquoise kurta, and their children, who were also wearing traditional Indian outfits. Trudeau’s family members had their heads covered. Slogans of “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal” were heard as the Canadian Prime Minister and others entered the complex housing Sikhism’s holiest shrine.
Trudeau and his family members first went to to the “Langar Hall”, where thousands of devotees partake langar (community food) and also do “sewa” (voluntary service). The Golden Temple’s Langar Hall is the biggest community kitchen in the world. Trudeau and his family sat down on small stools inside the Langar Hall to knead flour and roll chapatis.
The Canadian Prime Minister also did “parikarma” before entering the sun-soaked and glittering all-gold sanctum sanctorum. The family bowed before the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book that is considered as a living guru. The Trudeaus touched their foreheads on the ground inside the sanctum sanctorum. They were given “Siropa” (traditional robe of honour) by the head priest inside the shrine.
Trudeau’s visit holds political and social significance in Canada as the country has a substantial Indian diaspora, a majority of them from Punjab. Trudeau, who was accompanied by Canadian federal ministers Harjit Singh Sajjan and Amarjit Bains, had asked local authorities to let him and his family enjoy the spirituality of the Golden Temple during their visit.
He was received at the Golden Temple entrance by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Gobind Singh Longowal, along with Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal. Earlier, Trudeau was received at the airport by Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development Hardeep Singh Puri and Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Tight security was in place in and around Amritsar for Trudeau’s visit. Government security agencies and SGPC volunteers formed a tight security ring around the Canadian Prime Minister and his entourage inside the shrine complex. Hundreds of personnel of Punjab Police and other security agencies were stationed at the airport and on the road from the airport to the Golden Temple complex.