Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Iconic Scriptures in Flight

The Times of India reports that transportation of 500 worn-out copies of the Guru Granth Sahib from London to India required the lease of an entire airliner in order to pay proper respect to the Sikh scriptures during the transfer:

The 330-seater aircraft carried 500 copies of the Guru Granth Sahib and 32 sevadars who were accompanying the holy scriptures.

Sikhs regard the Guru Granth Sahib as their living Guru and accord it respect accordingly. The books in question were extremely old, with several pages torn. The aim of the management of the Gurudwara Mai Pago in Karol Bagh, which brought the books to India, is to perform the last rites for these books, as would be done for their Guru. They will collect old copies of the holy book from all parts of the world and clean them. Eventually they will be given up in an `agni bhet' as part of the antim sanskar.

AI-112 arrived at the IGI airport at 2.30 am on Thursday and was taken to a special bay where the books were offloaded. All copies were carried out by the sevadars on their heads, as a mark of respect to the books. Since the books cannot be stacked on top of each other, they were placed on 300 seats, with a miximum of one copy atop another, and the other seats were occupied by the sevadars.

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