TAXILA: Mohinder Kaur, now 72 years old, was only five when her family migrated from a village near Nankana Sahib in Pakistan to India.
Today she has returned to the country of her birth for pilgrimage to the temple at Panja Sahib in Hassanabdal to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion. She said the attack at Wagah did make her fellow pilgrims and her fearful, but the spiritual significance of their visit was too much for them to even consider cancelling it.
Similar feelings were expressed by Jaktar Singh who was also born in Pakistan but migrated with his family from Samundri during the partition of India.
“I had to wait for decades for chance to visit Pakistan; how could I cancel my trip out of fear,” he said.
“Besides one feels safe in the Guru’s land anyway,” he adds.
Around 1,800 followers of the Sikh faith arrived from India on Friday evening on special trains from Nankana Sahib, shouting the Sikh slogan of ‘Wahe guruji ka khalsa, wahe guruji ki fateh’ (Wonderful Lord’s initiated Sikhs, Victory is to the Wonderful Lord). They were joined by a number of Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs from various parts of the country to perform religious rites in connection with the 546th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
They were received by the officials of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and district administration and taken to Panja Sahib amid strict security arrangements.
On Saturday, religious rituals were performed with fervour. The temple was alive with the melodious chanting of prayers and hymns and ‘prasad’(food) was offered as part of the ritual.
“No matter what the security situation in Pakistan is like or how much tension there is on the borders, the Guru’s love is too strong to let us be deterred from visiting our holy places,” said Sardar Harjub Singh, who was leading a group of 1,800 Sikhs visiting Gurdawara Panja Sahib, Hassanabdal from Amritsar on a ten-day pilgrimage to the temple.
Sardar Harjub Singh said that the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion is in Pakistan along with a number of other places that are holy in Sikhism. Indian Sikhs think of Pakistan as their second home and want good relations between India and Pakistan, he said.
“I thank the government and the people of Pakistan for extending a warm welcome to us and for facilitating our stay. However, improvement in health facilities is needed as most pilgrims are senior citizens and often need care. More rooms at Nankana Sahib will also make our stay more comfortable.”
He added that maintenance of the temples, especially at Panja Sahib, as well as the security arrangements were impressive.
Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2014