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Hollywood bar removes portraits of Gurus from Indian maharaja’s room

By Anju Kaur, SikhNN staff writer, Washington Bureau
Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2013 | 10:13 pm

The Pikey Cafe and Bar in Hollywood, California, commissioned portraits of Indian maharajas.

Photo Source: United Sikhs

A Hollywood bar has confirmed, with photographs, that it has removed portraits of the Sikh Gurus from its walls.

The portraits, which were hung on the wall panels, were commissioned from India for the bar’s special Indian maharaja’s room, said Manmeet Singh, staff attorney for United Sikhs.

The New York-based advocacy group received an email this month from The Pikey Café and Bar management that the portraits were removed as of Oct. 1. But it took some convincing.

After learning of the portraits from a third party, United Sikhs wrote to the management on Aug. 29 expressing deep concern and anguish of the Sikh community. Sikh scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, and the Sikh Code of Conduct, the Rehit Maryada, require abstention from alcohol and other drugs.

“We explained to them why this act is so disrespectful, and asked for immediate measures to be taken to address it,” Manmeet Singh said in a news release. “Specifically, we requested for removal of the portraits, and offered to have them transported to the nearest gurdwara.”

The management responded by removing the pictures of the portraits from the bar’s Web site, but did it not acknowledge receipt of the United Sikhs’ email. United Sikhs sent a representative to see whether the portraits had been removed. They were not. After numerous attempts to contact the management, and unable to solicit a response for about three weeks, United Sikhs created an online petition on behalf of the Sikh community.

“They were scared of liability,” Manmeet Singh told SikhNN. The Indian maharaja’s room was booked for special events. Their clients would not be happy with paying for an Indian maharaja’s room without the portraits of the Indian maharajas. They could be charged for breech of contract.

The Facebook petition asked for the bar management to respect the religious sentiments of the Sikhs by removing the portraits of the revered Sikh Gurus from its walls. United Sikhs also informed the management that to hang the portraits of the Sikh Gurus in an establishment serving alcohol was considered a “sacrilegious act.”

The management received an emailed notice every time the petition was signed, Manmeet Singh said.

A few days later, the management told Manmeet Singh that the portraits were going to be removed. But they would not commit to a date. The management had commissioned new portraits from India, but it would be some time before they were ready.

United Sikhs insisted that the problem “needed to be addressed without further delay,” Manmeet Singh said. “This is a religious issue.”

Following numerous deliberations, Committed Incorporated’s special projects manager confirmed that the portraits had been taken down. He sent an email of before-and-after photographs of the wall panel with, and now without the portraits.

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