Pilgrims gather at Punja Sahib for Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary

Published November 30, 2023
A view of Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal where Sikh pilgrims have gathered to celebrate the 554th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. — Dawn
A view of Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal where Sikh pilgrims have gathered to celebrate the 554th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. — Dawn

TAXILA: Thousands of Sikh pilgrims from across the globe, especially over 2,500 from India, gathered at the Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal on Wednesday to perform their rituals in connection with the 554th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

In the first phase of celebrations, the pilgrims performed Matha Teki, Akhand Path, Shabad Kirtan and Ashnan. Besides over 2,500 Indian Sikhs, a large number of devotees from the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Australia, Canada and Gulf countries participated in the event.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Amritsar party leader Khushmindar Singh told the media that special love for Pakistanis compelled them to visit the country again and again. He said Sikh pilgrims were content with the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor.

“We are grateful to the Pakistani government, particularly the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) for making arrangements for the protection of Gurdwaras in Pakistan,” he said.

Balwinder Singh, deputy party leader of visiting Indian Sikh pilgrims, lauded the boarding and lodging arrangements made by the Pakistani government.

“We felt at home and have no concern about our safety or security,” he said, adding that they considered Pakistan their second home.

Sukhwant Singh from Ferozepur said he had paid a pilgrimage visit to Pakistan in 2019 and now again succeeded in getting a visa to pay homage at the handprint of Baba Guru Nanak in Hassanabdal.

He said he was pleased to see the improvement in facilities, especially boarding and lodging.

Permeet Kaur, a devotee from the UK, said she and 40 members of the Sikh community from Britain were visiting Pakistan to offer their religious rituals.

She said, like many other Indians living in Europe, they had misconceptions about the security issues and state of affairs of minority and their worship places, but found that the situation was different from what was being portrayed.

Ms Kaur said she was overjoyed to see the upkeep of our worship places and facilities provided to the Sikh community in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2023

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