NAROWAL: Sikhs visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib through the recently opened Kartarpur Corridor are bringing tomatoes from India as their share for the langar khana or the community kitchen which provides a free vegetarian meal to all visitors.

Before coming to the Gurdwara, Sardar Hari Chand and Sardar Ammar Sindhu Singh, both of Amritsar in Indian Punjab, filled their bags with tomatoes as their best present for the langar khana given the high prices of tomato in Pakistan. Like Hari Chand and Ammar Sindhu, several other pilgrims also brought tomatoes and other vegetables for the community kitchen.

Sardar Hari Chand said they brought tomatoes for their high prices in Pakistan and cheap rates in India. He said he learned that in Narowal, tomatoes were being sold for Rs300 to Rs400 per kg “while in India, they are available for Rs20”.

Ammar Sidhu said: “Sikh pilgrims from all over the world eat meals from the langar khana and a dish without tomatoes remain incomplete.”

He said: “We’ve heard the rates of vegetables are very high in Pakistan; while coming from Amritsar, we also brought ginger, green chilli, garlic and onion.”

Pilgrims say they feel happy when they contribute their share in the form of kind and cash for providing tasty dishes to visitors.

Ammar Sindhu said no Sikh would like to visit anyone’s home without a gift, so how could they forget to bring something to their guru’s house.

Sikhs visiting their high place from Malaysia, Canada, France, Italy and India through the visa-free corridor are grateful to the Pakistan government for opening the corridor.

Samran Singh, a schoolteacher in Malaysia, arrived at the gurdwara with Sardar Sarmeen Singh through the corridor.

She said: “Pakistan has given the message of peace and love to the world by constructing the Kirtarpur Corridor; this corridor will strengthen relations between Pakistan and India and there will be peace. Poverty will be alleviated and there will be prosperity in both countries.”

Seeta Rani, of Mumbai, and Ashoo Singh, of Mogha city, were visiting their holy place in Pakistan for the first time.

“By opening the Kirtarpur Corridor, Pakistan did a great favour to the Sikh nation,” said Seeta.

“We’re thankful to the Pakistan government and the people of Pakistan for formulating an integrated system of looking after our worship places,” added Ashoo.

Sikh pilgrims coming to the gurdwara also buy crafts and take photographs after performing their rituals.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019