TAXILA: A bus carrying Canadian pilgrims reached Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal late at night on Monday, a stop of their journey to the new Kartarpur Corridor for the celebration of the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak.
Speaking to the press, one of the tour organisers Gurcharan Singh Banwait said the bus, which is emblazoned with ‘Journey to Kartarpur’ on its front, began its journey from Brampton, Canada, on Sept 3.
The bus travelled to the United Kingdom, crossed the Atlantic on a ship to Paris, and then travelled through Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Turkey before entering Pakistan via Iran. It has eight people on board, with dining, sleeping and toilet facilities as well.
Eight pilgrims on board travelled through 14 countries
Mr Banwait said: “We became ambassadors of peace for Pakistan across the globe while carrying the name of our bus’ destination in Pakistan.”
He said they reached Pakistan after travelling through 14 countries for the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, which will be celebrated at the Gurdwara Janam Asthan in the city of his birth, Nankana Sahib, on Nov 12.
As the occasion nears, Sikhs from all over the country including India, Europe, the United Arab Emirates and North America have started arriving at Gurdwara Punja Sahib.
On Tuesday, 650 pilgrims from the UK reached the temple, as did 43 pilgrims from Canada. Strict security measures were in place in this regard.
According to the Evacuee Trust Property Board’s (ETPB) official records, 27 pilgrims from the United States, 10 from Ireland, eight from Malaysia, one from Thailand and three from Afghanistan have also reached Gurdwara Punja Sahib. The pilgrims are on their way to Kartarpur.
Girjan Singh from Canada praised the government for opening the Kartarpur Corridor.
Bisanpreet Kaur, one of around a hundred pilgrims visiting Punja Sahib dressed in white, said: “We selected this colour as it is a symbol of peace and we are here to present ourselves as ambassadors of peace.”
She said the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor will further strengthen the relationship between Pakistan and the global Sikh community.
Sardar Juspal Singh, who is visiting from the UK, told the press that the Kartarpur Corridor is a symbol of religious harmony and Sikh-Muslim friendship, adding that the Baba Guru Nanak University is a great initiative to spread the teachings of Guru Nanak, which are based on equality and brotherhood.
Gurmeet Kaur said the corridor was the longstanding desire of the community globally, and it being fulfilled has won the hearts of milli0ns of Sikhs around the world.
Regarding the government’s initiatives to promote religious tourism through visa facilitation, Ms Kaur said this would benefit tens of thousands of Sikh pilgrims every year and promote interfaith harmony.
Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2019