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TAXILA: The district administration, Evacuee Property Trust Board (ETPB), police and other departments have finalised arrangements for the Hindu religious festival Raksha Bandhan and the Sikh festival of Samagam, to be observed from Aug 25 to Aug 27 at Gurdwara Punja Sahib, Hassanabdal.

Raksha Bandhan, also abbreviated to Rakhi, is a festival for celebrating brotherhood and love. It is celebrated on the full moon in the month of Sravana in the lunar calendar.

As there is no significant place of worship for the Hindu community in the Rawalpindi region, the festival is observed at the Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal, where a large number of Sikhs also take part in the rituals.

The Sikh religious festival of Samagam is also observed along with Rakhi.

Samagam means an important gathering or meeting of the Sangat to take part in an event to celebrate, announce or exchange ideas of great communal value.

A meeting of officials was held at the Gurdwara Punja Sahib on Monday to review and finalise arrangements.

The meeting was attended by District Police Officer (DPO) Hassan Asad Alvi, Deputy Commissioner (DC) retired Flt Lt Imran Qureshi, Deputy Secretary Shrines Imran Gondal, ETPB Deputy Administrator Mohammad Abdullah, Caretaker Asmat Khan, representatives of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and other officials.

It was decided that all routes leading to the Gurdwara will be closed for traffic while walk through gates and security cameras will be set up around the venue. Foolproof security arrangements will be made for visiting Sikhs and Hindus during the festival, DPO Alvi told the meeting.

DC Qureshi said the local administration has made all efforts to provide better civic facilities to Sikh and Hindu devotees, especially cleanliness, uninterrupted power supply and better boarding facilities.

Deputy Shrines Imran Gondal said all facilities will be provided including security, accommodation and medical facilities and that pilgrims will notice a positive change this year.

He said better security measures have been adopted and that 48 CCTV cameras have been installed inside the gurdwara.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2018