Amritsar’s Bazaar Mai Sewan evokes a forlorn story of misplaced grandeur

Charanjit Singh Teja

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 9

With 25 publishers abounding the Bazaar Mai Sewan, it was thought-about as soon as the world’s largest setting of Punjabi (Gurmukhi) books. But as of now, all glory has been misplaced within the mists of time.

The authentic space ranging from Darshni Deorhi to Chowk Ghanta Ghar, which was greater than 200ft, has been lowered. Several historic buildings, together with Udasi Akhara, Sangal Wala Akhara, Gianian Wala Bunga and Hathi Khanna dotting the bazaar are all gone.

Meanwhile, a giant chunk of the historical past was demolished by the federal government for the development of Galiara across the Golden Temple in 1988. Most of the guide sellers and publishers have been moved to different markers, whereas many left the enterprise. Today, you can say the market is completely no-nostalgia-evoking, unrecognisable remnant of its previous grandeur. Only outlets of drafting supplies, motels and non secular symbols may be seen. A scanty of booksellers is the one reminder.

Century-old books mendacity within the guide cabinets.

Market’s displacement and reckless choices

During the much-condemned assault of the Indian Army on Akal Takht in 1984, a variety of outlets have been lowered to ashes. Come 1988, the federal government’s choice of Galiara on the expense of market left many sellers in turmoil. Many have been displaced.

Narinderpal Singh, proprietor of Mehar Singh and sons, laments: “They didn’t care about its legacy during the Galiara’s construction. The business of books is perfect, but the new generations of the publishers are not adopting it. Religious literature is high in demand. We are sitting at the heart of Sikh world and customers from all over the world visit us. The government ruined our market.”

They did not care about its legacy in the course of the Galiara’s building. The enterprise of books is ideal, however the brand new generations of the publishers are usually not adopting it. Religious literature is in excessive demand. We are sitting on the coronary heart of the Sikh world and prospects from everywhere in the world go to us. The authorities has ruined our market. —Narinderpal Singh, proprietor of Mehar Singh and Sons

Gursagar Singh, proprietor of Singh brothers, recollects: “There was a great time of the market, when it was the hub of the Punjabi literature. The business is good, but owing to scenarios several prominent publishers have switched to other occupation.”

Balwinder Singh, former Head of the Guru Ramdas School of Planning at Guru Nanak Dev University, sai: “I have submitted a thesis for MPhil on Bazaar Mai Sewan to my guide BS Brar. Once, it was world’s largest market of Gurmukhi books. Now, it’s almost ruined; the market witnessed huge changes during the 20th Century.”

Bunga Gianian (crimson brick work) of Bazaar Mai Sewan as seen in 1988. Pic courtesy: Dr Balwinder Singh

Establishment of printing press and publishers

With the emergence of Gurumukhi printing press, numerous these have been established in Lahore and Amritsar. The first Punjabi printing press (utilizing Gurmukhi font) was established by means of a Christian mission in Ludhiana in 1835. Eminent Punjabi author Bhai Vir Singh established Wazir Hind Press within the metropolis in 1899. During the 1980s, Lahore grew to become a hub of Gurmukhi printing presses publishing non secular textual content and Qissas.

Meanwhile, Amritsar emerged as the primary market of spiritual and Gurmukhi literature. During the early 20th Century, numerous publishers settled within the Bazaar Mai Sewan and established their machines. Famous Qissakar (story author) Kishan Singh Arif (1836-1904), whose father Narain Singh was a writer and bookseller in the identical bazaar, revealed Qissa Shirin Farhad, Puran Bhagat, Raja Bharthari, Raja Rasaloo, Dulla Bhatti and Kalianwali Heer.

Quite a few publishers, together with Mehar Singh and Sons, Buta Singh-Partap Singh, Chattar Singh-Jewan Singh, Singh Brothers, Khalsa Brothers, Jawahar Singh-Kirpal Singh, Uttam Singh-Gurmukh Singh, Ameer Bhandar, Kastoori Lal and Sons, Munshi Chirag Deen, Bhai Fakeer Singh and sons and Ladha Singh-Kartar Singh amongst others had established their presses afterward and revealed non secular literature.

Shrouded in legendary previous

The Bazaar Mai Sewan began early within the Ranjit Singh period (1780-1839). It was Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who devoted this bazaar to a woman named Mai Sewan. She was the spouse of a army commander Fateh Singh Kaaliawaala. Mai Sewan was identified for her devoted providers on the Durbar Sahib and was probably the most revered figures among the many locals. Interestingly, a fable additionally runs parallel to the idea. It is claimed that it belongs to Mai Sewan, a devotee of the third Sikh Guru — Amardas ji. Once, she expressed her need of wanting her identify to reside perpetually to the grasp. The Guru is claimed to have complied with the demand. When fifth Guru Arjan Dev developed the town and allotted land to the settlers, a bazaar resulting in Guru Ke Mehal (residence of Guru) was devoted to Mai Sewan.

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