So what connects a miniature airplane to a gurudwara (a place of worship for the Sikhs) in Jalandhar ?
This particular gurudwara goes by the name of Shaheed Baba Nihal Singh Gurudwara except it is also referred to as the ‘Hawai Jahaz (aeroplane) Gurudwara’.
Intriguing, right? A bit of online research and …voila!
So there is an urban legend associated with it. You make a wish here to go abroad and your visa comes through without a hitch. You board a plane and fly across the blue sky to your destination.
Does it work?
Your guess is as good as mine. The legend though, remains strong. Oh! Also, when your wish comes true, you must gift a toy airplane to the gurudwara.
Bizarre, right? Well, that’s the story.
I was curious. I suppose that made me determined to visit this place while I was in Jalandhar, recently.
Honestly, I didn’t know what I would find.
I was in rural Punjab, a scene straight out of an old Bollywood film. There was a functional tubewell too with water gushing into channels, that wound along dusty paths into the fields of green.
I certainly did not expect to see an ordinary place of worship, dazzling white in the sun, standing in the middle of nowhere.
Where in the world were the miniature planes? I mean, there was nothing to pinpoint that my research was true. Even the building did not have any structure remotely connected to aircrafts.
I did see the nearby shops selling toy aircrafts among other brightly coloured knickknacks. Was this tale a hoax so that people could visit this nondescript place?
I walked all around the gurudwara, paid my respects, queued for prasad. Finally I climbed to the second floor to a hall packed with people.
I had never seen such colourful fans, spinning away. Such was my fascination that I almost missed the few people clutching toy planes in the crowd.
Hurrah! Perhaps there was some truth to the stories.
I eagerly followed those people to see what they did with it. So those planes were deposited for literally milliseconds at the foot of what looked like the gurudwara’s holy relics. They were immediately picked by the men incharge, who kept a watchful eye. They then placed those in the outstretched hands of the little children sitting with their parents on one side. Every time a plane would be handed, the children’s excited cheer would ring out, “Me!”
After our darshan, we too joined the people sitting in the hall for prayers. As I watched it all, I couldn’t help wondering how myths are created, belief takes hold and faith multiplies.
Perhaps this gurudwara really made dreams come true, at least for the excited children.
Lens – Artist Challenge : You pick it.