Talhan: What does a toy plane have to do inside a shrine? Well, if it is Shaheed Baba Nihal Singh Gurudwara, the toy is at the heart of prayers of those who are seeking visa to go abroad. Strange it may sound though but this gurudwara in the tiny village of Talhan, about 12 km from Jalandhar, has made people believe that if you wish to go abroad, you offer prayers along with a toy aeroplane and it will be answered.
On Sundays, the gurudwara management find anything between 80 and 100 toy aeroplanes inside the first-floor hall of the Sikh shrine although it ridicules the idea as superstition. No surprise that the shrine is now popularly known as 'Hawaijahaj' (aeroplane) gurudwara.
"We don't know how it all started. We do not support superstitions. But we can't stop people from doing it. We can just guide them but if somebody believes in such things, let it be," said Balvir Singh, the manager of the shrine. Even as Balvir puts forth his views, the CCTV cameras in his room catch a young couple with an aircraft miniature in their hands, entering the worship hall. They spend about five minutes and emerge out after offering the toy along with their prayer.
The young man is an agriculturist from Kapurtthala, 33 km from the gurudwara, and wishes to go to UK with his wife. "I know the prayers are answered here. I am sure I will get visa," said 27-year-old Arminder Singh, who chose to pay a visit to the gurudwara before sending his visa application.
Balvir though says, "If you are destined to go to a foreign country, you will go. You don't have to do this." The officials of the shrine say they sometimes are the butt of jokes among relatives. "They say, what are you doing sitting in gurudwara. Look at people who go to your gurudwara. They are roaming around the world and you guys just sit there," said an employee.
Since 2006, the shrine is being managed by the government following a dispute between the Jats and Dailts of the village. Both the communities wanted major control in the affairs of the shrine and even led to riots in 2003. The gurudwara has come up in memory of saint Nihal Singh, about whom neither the management of the shrine nor the
villagers know much.
Ask about saint Nihal Singh and about his martyrdom and Balvir Singh struggles to find answer. "Can't say much about this. We do not much about his life. But this place has some connection with him and that's why this gurudwara was established." Balvir though provided a booklet which says saint Nihal Singh was born in 1860 in Jalandhar but says it is not authentic.
Asked why do they distribute it, he says,"An advocate, who belongs to this village but not settled here collected some material and wrote this book. But we do not know how authentic this information is. Since people keep on insisting to know about babaji, we distributed a few books." So, here is a shrine whose history is not known much but has scaled heights because of a strange trend.