The site on which the Siri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) rests has been a space for quiet reflection for centuries. Originally a small lake in the middle of a forest, many saints and sages have stopped here to meditate and dip in the holy waters. Historians say that Guru Nanak has meditated here, but it was through the blessing of Guru Ram Das, that it has become the center that it is today and was named Amritsar.
Every day, large numbers of devotees come to dip in these holy waters. It is said that around 100,000 people visit Siri Darbar Sahib daily and many take a dip in the Holy Nectar. With so many people dipping in these waters, many wonder how the Amrit, the ‘nectar of immortality,’ is kept clean.
The Sarovar, with a capacity of 31,000 gallons, was earlier partially dependent on rainwater and would dry up in the summers. During the British period, it was connected to the Upper Bari Doab canal of the Ravi river, thus ensuring year-round water supply. A network of ingeniously-designed tunnels facilitates the easy and free flow of its water at all times. In addition, a part of the water supply comes from tube wells installed in the Golden Temple complex.
There are several measures that have been undertaken to keep the Sarovar clean. The many fish that live in the Sarovar, including common Carp, Rohu, Mrigal, and Katla, help by eating the algae. Complete emptying of the nectar tank and cleaning by devotees have occurred five times. The first was June 17, 1923, then March 31, 1973, October 12, 1984, after Operation Blue Star, on May 19, 1988, after Operation Black Thunder, and on March 25, 2004. Many Sikhs from around the world participate in this Seva (Selfless Service).
During these times thousands of Sikhs and other devotees travel from far and wide to work together to remove silt from the bottom of the tank.
During the 2004 kar seva, a devotee donated a state-of-the-art water treatment and filtration plant for the Sarovar. The water that flows into it is cleansed in this plant and aeration ducts, which pump continuously, supply oxygen to the Sarovar. The foundation goes 16-17 feet deep. Since there was no cement at the time that it was built, a lime mixture was used to plaster the walls built with slim Nanakshahi bricks. Though the Sarovar is lined by concrete today, its base is still untiled so that groundwater may naturally recharge. Waste water from the daily parkarma seva is disposed of into a drain, which earlier used to lead to city sewers, but is now diverted to recharge wells. Many new cleaning equipment and devices have been now installed.
Many of you might be familiar with the work of scientists who have studied the impact of positive vibrations on water through observing the crystals formed by water labeled in different ways. Imagine the healing vibration held by the water in this Amrit Sarovar, where the Guru’s Bani and singing of hymns has been vibrating for hundreds of years. Today, we join many thousands of Sangat members to take a daily sip and dip in these holy waters.