Amritsar: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh began the New Year on Sunday by offering prayers at Harmandar Sahib, the holiest of Sikh shrines, popularly known as the Golden Temple.

 

Team Anna defends protest against PM

He and his wife Gursharan Kaur reached the shrine complex around 6.30 a.m. and went around the 'parikarma' of the sacred pond before entering the sanctum sanctorum. Wearing a white kurta-pyjama and a dark grey jacket, the prime minister offered prayers along with his wife. He later sat down in an enclosure inside the sanctum sanctorum to listen to hymns.

Of the over one hour that he was inside the shrine complex, the prime minister spent nearly 45 minutes listening to mellifluous prayers and hyms with his eyes shut.

He and his wife were presented a 'siropa' (robe of honour) by the 'granthi' (priest) of the shrine.

Thousands of devotees were present at the shrine complex when the prime minister arrived amid tight security.

He and his wife later paid obeisance at the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion, inside the shrine complex. He was escorted by Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel and scores of 'sewadars' (volunteers) of the shrine.

The prime minister had arrived here Saturday evening from New Delhi. He stayed overnight at the government Circuit House.
The visit was a "private one", a police officer said.

Amritsar city has been shivering at sub-zero temperatures for the past one week with the minimum temperature Friday morning recorded at minus 2.1 degrees - the lowest temperature of this winter season.

The prime minister a devout Sikh last visited the shrine in March 2009, just a few weeks after his coronary bypass surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.

The prime minister, who lived and studied in Amritsar after his family migrated here from Rawalpindi after partition, also has some relatives who are settled here.

PM shown black flags 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was shown black flags by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare's supporters as he came out of the Golden Temple here after offering prayers on the first day of the New Year.

The protest by some Hazare supporters caught the security agencies completely off guard.

Though none of the protesters could reach anywhere near the prime minister, they were able to register their symbolic protest as they shouted pro-Anna Hazare and pro-Jan Lokpal bill slogans.

The incident took place just as Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur came out of the Sikh shrine after offering prayers.
The prime minister started the first day of the new year by offering prayers at the holiest of Sikh shrines, Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as Golden Temple, early Sunday.

He reached the shrine complex at around 6.30 a.m. with his wife and remained there for over 75 minutes.

(Agencies)