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Punjab’s vanishing heritage

For a middle class that considers devotion to be a fairly pious affair, these painters clearly wanted to have some fun with their gods. Ananda, a core aspect of Indian spirituality signifies an ease of being, where celebration is as natural as devotion, where chants come alive like the bugles of the divine.

Punjab’s Vanishing Heritage

Guru Har Sahai, a township in the Firozpur district of Punjab is a good place to begin discovering Punjab’s vanishing architectural heritage. In a double storied monument called Pothimala, said to contain the sacred book and Nanak’s own rosary, also sits a fresco feast. This Western border outpost has murals that deserve closer historical scrutiny. Some say miniature painters from the hill kingdoms painted these murals on their way down from the hills in the 18th and 19th century.

Currently, since this is classified neither as a dera nor a monument under SGPC, it has survived. SGPC or Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee at its very inception in 1925 was mandated to protect gurudwaras and monuments of Sikh importance. But there is growing evidence in the state of replacement of paintings that hinted at a more composite heritage, with Sikh martial history. Media reports of kar sevaks or volunteers, leading this visual whitewash have been as few as the success stories of conserving Punjab’s forgotten monuments. Here are some trinkets from Punjab’s monumental treasure chest. Text and photos by TISHA SRIVASTAV.