In a bold attempt, the highest seat of Sikh authority – Akal Takht – has directed gurudwaras in India to limit the sound of the loud speakers within the boundary walls of the temples to check noise pollution.
Setting a bold precedent, the Akal Takht (the highest Sikh seat of authority) has issued an edict to all gurudwaras to regulate the volume of loudspeakers so that students or neighbors in adjoining houses are not disturbed.
The directive has been collectively issued by heads of all five Takhts asking managements of Sikh temples to turn the speakers off during ‘ardas’ (prayer) and limit the volume during ‘kirtan’ (discourse). The order further implies that the sound emitting from the speakers must not be heard beyond the boundary walls of the temples.
A study conducted by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) which had released its results in April this year had found that the noise generated by speakers at religious places in villages was alarmingly high, at least two or three times higher than the permissible limit.
Loudspeakers are either affixed on rooftops or outside the premises of nearly all religious sites, which are switched on every mornings and evenings.
The police in Punjab claims they have been swamped with reports from residents and students living around places of worship complaining that hymns can be heard at loud volumes late at night and very early in the morning every day.
According to the noise pollution rules in India, loudspeakers cannot be used anywhere without written permission from the local authorities and the sound from the speakers must not exceed the fixed limit during the day. The law also says that loud speakers cannot be used at night after 10 pm except in closed premises.
Speaking to SBS Punjabi, Guneet Kalra from Jalandhar who’s house is a block away from the gurudwara in the locality says that “nobody follows the law. On festivals, you can hear kirtan until the midnight from as far as a kilometer”.
However, this is not the first time that such an edict has been issued.
Earlier a similar order was issued by the Shiromani Gurudwara Committee, the apex Sikh body to this effect in 2005, followed by another resolution in 2013 to restrain the use of speakers, but hardly any gurudwara adhered to these decrees.