Q99. What do you know of Pingalwara, Amritsar?
Pingalwara literally means a home for the crippled. However, this institution caters to the needs of the handicapped, the insane and the terminally sick. It is primarily a rescue-home for the poor, helpless and maimed.
The promotor of the Pingalwara is Bhagat Puran Singh, a selfless and dedicated Sikh. He was born in Lahore and used to do voluntary service at Gurdwara Dera Sahib. He would clear the streets of Lahore and cremate the unclaimed dead. He took care of the destitute and took the sick to the hospital for treatment.
After the partition of India in 1947, Bhagat Puran Singh set up a centre at Amritsar. First, he had a few tents to accommodate the poor and the sick. Soon he got a plot of land and constructed a three story building to house 250 patients. The unclaimed bodies of those who die in Pingalwara are taken to the local medical college for teaching anatomy. Pingalwara receives grants from the government, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committe, Amritsar and smiilar charitable institutions. Sikhs, both in India and abroad, collect funds and send them to the Pingalwara. Bhagat Puran Singh is an institution in himself. He is an unassuming and dedicated Sikh, who reminds one of Bhai Kanhiya, a Sikh of the Tenth Guru. Puran Singh is a true Sikh in the old tradition and has won public esteem for his humanitarian work all over India. He is called by various epithets - 'Mother Tereasa of Punjab', 'the bearded saint of Amritsar', 'Bhai Kanhiya of the twentieth century'.
Recently Bhagat Puran Singh got a cash reward of Rs. 20,000 from the punjab Government and he donated it to the Pingalwara. He is hopeful of carrying on his selfless work until the end of his life. At the age of eighty, he maintians a busy schedule of service till late in the night. He has no worry about funds for the institute. He similingly declares, "This is God's work, and I feel confident that He will look after it." This institute is a registered charity and will continue to function after Bhagat Puran Singh's passing away.