Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

Major Amarjit Singh Bal

An officer in the Poona horse, Major Amarjit Singh Bal was stationed at Shakargarh in the northwest, during the 1971 war with Pakistan. The regiment was to establish and defend a secure bridgehead on the Basantar river. As the operations began, Major Bal was in command of a squadron at Jarpal, overlooking the river. It was a position most vulnerable to enemy attack. Sure enough, the Pakistani forces began shelling the area heavily. The Indian troops foiled these attempts repeatedly, killing several enemy troops. the Pakistanis persisted and launched several counter-attacks over the next two days. The Indians were heavily outnumbered, but Major Bal was able to inspire his men to repel several enemy attacks. As many as 27 Pakistani M-48 tanks were destroyed. For his inspirational leadership and able manoeuvring of his troops in battle, Major Bal was awarded the Mahavir Chakra.

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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