Around 1,500 Indian Sikhs with over 500 from various European countries and over 2,000 Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs have added colour to Baisakhi festival that began in Hassanabdal on Thursday.
This year's festival marks the 319th anniversary of Khalsa (the righteous Sikh brotherhood). In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh (the last Sikh Guru in human form) asked his followers to sacrifice their lives for him.
Ashnan takes place twice a day, early in the morning and at sunset and is followed by worship. The followers also keep embracing five Ks, the Kaccha (shorts), the Kanga (comb), the Karda (bracelet), the Kais (hair) and the Kirpan (sword). Embracing all these five Ks are obligatory in their religion and is practised since centuries.
Baisakhi is widely celebrated by Sikhs in Punjab, with festivities centred on Panja Sahib Complex in Hassanabdal.
Baisakhi, an ancient festival dating back to the 17th century, also marks the beginning of a new solar year and harvest season.
It is one of the most significant holidays in the Sikh calendar, commemorating the establishment of the Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib in 1699, by the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.
The Sikh history revealed that Baisakhi Festival marks the constitution of Khalsa Panth in 1699 by Guru Govind Singh Maharaj, with whom the miraculous tales of Punja (hand print) are associated. This guru also introduced Sikh practices of wearing a turban, carrying a dagger and never cutting the hair or beard.
The Khalsa Panth was meant for protecting the sanctity of Sikhism and fighting out social evils from society. During their stay at Gurdwara, Sikh yatrees sleep on the floor as a ritual and is a requirement of their belief.
Talking to APP at Punja Sahib, most of the yatrees appeared excited about visiting Pakistan and said they enjoyed their visit to the country more than what they were expecting before reaching here. They appreciated the arrangements made by the government of Pakistan to make their visit and stay comfortable and for the maintenance of their holy sites.
Sikh Yatrees group leader Sardar Balvinder Singh thanked the Pakistan government, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and the locals for the wonderful welcome and laudable arrangements for the yatrees.
He urged the governments of Pakistan and India to remove visa restrictions on senior citizens and relax some immigration laws to facilitate ordinary citizens of both the countries.
Balvinder Singh said Pakistan is like a second home to the Sikh community where they used to live. He said relations between Sikhs and Muslims would improve in the days to come.