Of the many opportunities for seva (service) at the Golden Temple, cleaning is a constant. The white marble floors, inlaid with gorgeous designs, carved inscriptions dotting the surrounding parikarma, and the wide marble staircases serve to showcase the grandeur of the Harmandar Sahib and provides an elegant frame for the Golden Temple itself. Keeping the […]
Of the many opportunities for seva (service) at the Golden Temple, cleaning is a constant. The white marble floors, inlaid with gorgeous designs, carved inscriptions dotting the surrounding parikarma, and the wide marble staircases serve to showcase the grandeur of the Harmandar Sahib and provides an elegant frame for the Golden Temple itself. Keeping the luscious look of the white floors takes attention and effort. The Jharu, an essential tool for cleaning at the Golden Temple, is handmade at the Harmandar Sahib from reeds that are donated. This simple tool engages the community who can easily learn the steps to make a jharu. Anyone can pick up a broom and begin to sweep the beautiful marble floor, enhancing its luster.
A small group of jharu-making volunteers sits each morning in one corner of the shaded parikarma, reeds in one pile, strings in another. A large fistful of reeds are gathered in one hand toward the fatter ends of the reeds. Once the base is formed into a cylindrical shape tap the fat bottom of the newly forming broom vertically into the hard marble. Sharply tap a few times, so the end of the jharu is nice and flat. Tie a jute string a few inches from the base gathering the reeds into a pole-shape. Once you’ve made a knot, keeping the shape of the broom end, take the long end of the string and begin the weaving magic.
Brooms1 (33K)Each volunteer has his/her unique style of tying and weaving, but the basic design is to help the broom at once fan out, and also stay cohesive. Separate about a dozen reeds near the base, and draw the long end of the string through the separation. Then pull it tight. Then pull it tighter! You want the string to connect as close to the base of the wrapped string as possible, to give it a secure fit. Then add to those reeds another dozen and from behind, bring the string to front and again pull it tight! The string just might break with your strength! No problem: add another string by knotting them together. Better yet, start off with double string!
Continue the pattern of separating a portion and weaving the string forward then back until you come to the last bunch of reeds. Then wrap the remaining string around the base: again, tightly!
The last step demonstrates individual style: some people make a last loop between the fat lengths of reed that form the handle. This underneath loop can further fortify your new broom.
Once your broom is formed, you may need a lesson how to use it!
There’s a technique to using this handmade tool of reeds: hold the small handle with your palm facing downward. Bend over and begin across and near your body making a wide arch away from you, using the length of the broom to collect as many particles as possible in a long wide sweep. Continue the archs gracefully stepping on the cleaned area, avoiding sweeping towards you.
If you are sweeping particles, make a pile, if you are guiding water with the jharu, make the flow of water head towards the drains.
If in doubt, watch and learn.
The motion of bending as you sweep will give you an unusual workout that you’ll feel in your forearms and thighs. Of course, you will need to be mindful of your lower back muscles by keeping your knees bent. With practice you will learn the graceful dance-like moves of an expert jharu-walla.
The simple act of sweeping gives one appreciation for those who do this everyday. Sweepers in India have traditionally been a lower-status caste in the society. For this reason, the seva of jharu karna elevates the volunteer who chooses to humble him/herself in this way. Observe, and you will notice devotees in all corners and pathways of Harmandar Sahib jharus in hand, demonstrating their devotion.
~ By Teresa Singh
~ Source: http://sikhseverywhere.com/