TAXILA: Over 2,500 Sikhs have travelled to the Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal from India, arriving early on Saturday morning aboard special trains via the Wagah border.

Around 500 pilgrims from various other countries have also come to Hassanabdal, to celebrate the 547th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion.

The gurdwara echoed with religious chants of ‘Sat Sri Akal’ and ‘Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh’, as pilgrims filed in to take part in various religious rituals such as Akhand Path, Ashnan, Matha Teak, recitations of the holy text Guru Granth Sahib, and the yatra to a stone, believed to have the hand print of Baba Guru Nanak imprinted on it, from which fresh water flows.

Speaking to the press, the leader of the Indian Sikh contingent, Sardar Gurumeet Singh, said the site of Sikh gurus and the love given by Pakistanis, brought them back to the country over and over again. He thanked the government for the arrangements and said that they would take the message of love, peace and friendship with them.

According to the itinerary for their nine-day pilgrimage, the Indian pilgrims will arrive at Nankana Sahib on November 22, and will then travel to Farooqabad on November 24. The main ceremony of the birth anniversary will be held on November 25 at the Gurdwara Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib. The pilgrims will go to Lahore on November 26, and then to Gurdwara Darbar, Sahib Kartarpur, Narowal on November 27. They will return to India on November 29.

Due to the security threat, the city has been put on ‘red alert’. The roads and streets leading to the Sikh temple were sealed, and the markets along the temple were shut. The pilgrims were not permitted to leave the temple, and all government schools were closed down to serve as boarding premises for police contingents.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2015

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