Even though women are barred from performing kirtan at the Golden Temple, a team of women who now shoulder the responsibility of restoration of the fast deteriorating wall decorations within the darbar sahib. Hailing from different parts of India and belonging to different faiths, these women will soon bring these beautiful paintings back to their original glory.
Known as fresco paintings, this style of painting is also called the “Sikh School of Art”. These paintings which adorn the main darbar hall and the walls of the staircases are done with natural colors and are renowned all over the world for the detailing and delicacy of the art.
These frescoes were originally painted in 1830 during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh took on the gilding of the darbar sahib. They were done by artist Giani Sant Singh along with many Muslim artists. Again in 1910 Bhai Gian Singh Naqaash worked on them for 32 years. The third restoration was done in 1962 wherein varnish was used and this caused many of these beautiful paintings to deteriorate further.
Namita Jaspal, working with her team of 6 other women, is restoring these magnificent paintings to their original glory.
They are using scientific techniques to preserve these age old traditions and to save them for posterity. Detailing out the process, Namita says that first they will remove the damaged parts and then using a fine brush fill in the areas needing attention treating it appropriately. She is gravely concerned since much of the artwork from the staircases upto the walls is already in poor condition.
The artwork is covering almost 2,500 square feet of space on the walls and 4,000 square feet. Space in the staircases.
The women started working on the project in December 2013 and hope to complete this task in four months. The manager of the Golden Temple, Pratap Singh points out that the Golden Temple is the only unique place in the world where this style of art is still there. This time around, the SGPC plans to get it right and will cover the restored walls with a special glass covering.