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DHARAM ARTH BOARD, a body representing different sections of the Sikh community constituted in May 1949 by Maharaja Yadavinder Singh, Rajpramukh of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), to manage the major Sikh shrines within the new state which had come into being in consequence of the amalgamation of the eight princely territories in the Punjab. Before merger some of these states had their own boards or committees for the purpose. Patiala state had, for instance, its Interim Gurdwara Board formed on 8 November 1946; Kapurthala its General Gurdwara Committee; and Jind its Gurdwara Committee.

The gurdwaras in the Punjab were controlled by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee under the Gurdwaras Act of 1925, the jurisdiction of which statute did not extend to the princely states. After the formation of PEPSU, a notification (No. 2, dated 20 May 1949) was issued by Sardar Sahib Deodhi Mu`alla, constituting the Dharam Arth Board for the state. The Board comprised twenty-five members to which number ten more were added through a later notification.

At the first meeting of the 25member committee convened in the Patiala Secretariat on 27 June 1949, Jathedar Balwant Singh Chanarthal, an Akali leader, was unanimously elected president and a subcommittee was nominated to draft rules and regulations which were finally approved by the Board at its meeting on 26 August 1949. The Board had about two hundred gurdwaras under its control. Prominent among the twenty-five under its direct management were Gurdwara Sri Dukh Nivaran Sahib at Patiala, the shrines at Fatehgarh Sahib, Gurdwara Sri Ber Sahib at Sultanpur Lodhi, Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib atJind, Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib at Dhamtan and the state gurdwara at Kapurthala.

For gurdwaras not directly managed by the Board there were local committees under its supervision. Owing to acute factionalism that arose within its ranks the Dharam Arth Board was superseded under a government notification, dated 4 May 1954, by a 13member Interim Gurdwara Board, with Balwant Singh Chanarthal as its president. As PEPSU became part of the Punjab in 1956, the new state government by a notification dated 10 January 1958, allowed the Interim Gurdwara Board to continue functioning until it was merged with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on 8 January 1959.


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