AMRITSAR: Sikh pilgrims collect their passports from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee at the Golden Temple complex on Sunday before leaving for Pakistan to celebrate the Vaisakhi festival.—AFP
AMRITSAR: Sikh pilgrims collect their passports from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee at the Golden Temple complex on Sunday before leaving for Pakistan to celebrate the Vaisakhi festival.—AFP

LAHORE: The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has issued visas to over 1,100 Sikh pilgrims in connection with the 10-day Vaisakhi festival starting from Monday (today).

Also known as Baisakhi, Vaisakhi is a spring harvest festival for Sikhs and Hindus. It marks the Sikh new year and commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

The Evacuee Trust Pro­perty Board (ETPB) which looks after places of worship of the minority communities, expects the arrival of around 1,000 Sikh pilgrims this year due to the ongoing third wave of Covid-19.

“Our High Commission in New Delhi has issued visas to over 1100 Sikh pilgrims for participating in the annual Vaisakhi festival. They will enter the country on foot via Wagah border on April 12 (today),” a spokesman for the ETPB told Dawn on Sunday.

“Usually, the Indian government doesn’t allow all (to whom Pakistan issues visas) to proceed ahead to attend various events, including Vaisakhi. That is why we don’t see that all 1,100 will attend the festival,” he explained.

The pilgrims will reach Wagah border at about 10am. After clearance by immigration, customs and security authorities, they will be received and welcomed by the ETPB, Pakis­tan Gurd­wara Par­bandhak Comm­ittee office-bearers and other officials concerned.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2021

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