Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee
Ever since Guru Nanak Dev established the Sikh religion, historic Gurdwaras and other places of worship that were attached to the places sacred to Sikhs were governed by hereditory Mahants or Priests till 1920’s. In 1920’s Sikh leaders lead campaigns to free these gurdwaras from the control of mahants and managed to free all the major Gurdwaras like Nankana Sahib,Panja Sahib, Golden Temple, etc.
Then British took over many important Gurdwaras as many of these Mahants pressed law suits against Sikhs of Singh Sabha claiming these historic Gurdwaras as their personal property. Singh Sabha aka Akali Party under Baba Kharak Singh, Kartar Singh Jhabbar and Teja Singh Buchchar started sending bands or Jathas of peaceful protest and arrests to many of these Gurdwaras. One such mission was sent to the Gurdwara at Jaito. After some time larger batches, each 500 strong, began to be sent from Amritsar. The first of these left the Takht Akal Bunga on February 9,1924, led by Jathedar Udnam Singh of Gohalwar-Varpal. The news of the jatha marching on foot from Amritsar to Jaitu caused much excitement in the countryside. Dr Saif-ud-Din Kitchlew, a Congress leader, and a foreign journalist, S. Zimand of the New York Times, accompanied it as observers. At Jaitu, the jatha was fired upon (February 21,1924), but the Sikhs marched on in face of the shower of bullets. Twenty-one of them tell under fire, besides many wounded. Yet the jatha moved on undeterred, and reached Gurdwara Tibbi Sahib. Here the jatha was beaten by police and taken into custody.
Fifteen more jathas went to Jaitu. The authorities finally gave in and the last jatha was allowed to reach its destination. The Punjab government had made up its mind to let the Sikhs take over management of their shrines. The Sikh Gurdwaras Act was placed on the Statute Book on July 25,1925. A central Gurdwara Board, elected by the Sikhs, was to be the custodian of all important Sikh places of worship. The first Gurdwara Board passed a resolution that its designation be changed to Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. This was accepted by the government. That day Mahatma Gandhi declared "First battle of India’s independence has been won".
Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee currently takes care of all the historical Gurdwaras in Punjab as well as in adjoining states. Gurdwaras at Delhi are under Delhi Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee. These committees have officials picked through regular elections in which all Sikhs can participate (If you happen to be at Golden Temple at that time). SGPC has a chairman, treasurer and general secretary. Currently SGPCs chairman is Gurcharan Singh "Tohra". You can also visit Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committe’s site at www.sgpc.org. SGPC maintains all the Physical, Financial, religious aspects of Gurdwaras and keep archeologically precious and sacred things belonging to the Sikh Gurus, which include weapons, clothes, books, writings of Sikh Gurus.
Excerpts taken from these books.
The Heritage of Sikhs by Harbans Singh.