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LAHORE: Among the Sikh pilgrims landing in Lahore for a 10-day Besakhi festival on Tuesday is Harjeet Kour.

She had to leave her seven-year-old child at home back in Amritsar to travel to Pakistan.

Though she was missing her child, Harjeet said she had no words to explain her happiness to be on the soil of Baba Gurunanak. To her and others, it was a life-time opportunity in get a visa for the Besakhi festival.

On Tuesday, more than 2,200 Sikh pilgrims left Lahore for Hasanabdal on Tuesday to participate in the 10-day Besakhi festival starting on Wednesday (today).

“I tried hard to get travel documents of my seven-year-old son, Amarat Deep Singh, but failed. Lots of papers such as birth and educational certificates are required for a visa. So I decided to leave him at home with my husband and eldest son Simranjeet Singh,” she said.

Harjeet is in Pakistan with her father.

Queuing up at an immigration counter at Wahga Railway station on Tuesday, Harjeet said when she was leaving her home for the Amritsar Railway station, Amarat was crying to go with her.

“I had no option but to drop him at home, as I didn’t want to miss the chance of visiting the soil of Gurunanak,” she added. “Truly speaking, I cant see any difference between India and Pakistan. I feel that I am among my people who care for me,” she said.

Manmohan Kour was also among those visiting Pakistan for the first time.

“I was thinking about how Pakistanis will be. As soon as I reached here, we were accorded a warm welcome. And this has given me sense of relief,” she added.

Manpreet Singh was also happy with arrangements.

“People here gave us more respect than our own people. Everyone here is asking us is offering help. Security arrangements are also very good,” she said. She said if the people of both countries

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2016