Some 1,100 Indian Sikhs have arrived in Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Monday as part of the Nagar Kirtan, a religious procession held to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.
The gurdwara in Hasan Abdal, Attock district, was decorated with colourful lights and pilgrims performed various rituals including Matha Taki, Ashnan and exchanging gifts, Dawn news reported.
Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Deputy Secretary Shrines Imran Gondal said that the Sikh pilgrims crossed the border through Wagah on October 31 via Ludhiana and Amritsar.
He said they visited Gurdwara Janamasthan, Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Sacha Sodda Farooqabad and other temples, and the pilgrimage will conclude at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, where a gold palanquin ‘Palki Sahib’ will be installed on Tuesday.
“Around 1,300 visas issued for the Nagar Kirtan are over and above the contingent covered under the Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines 1974 between Pakistan and India,” Gondal said.
“Sikh pilgrims from India visit Pakistan for religious festivals at least four times a year under the framework of the 1974 India-Pakistan protocol on visits to religious shrines but denial to visit Pakistan to participate in religious rituals despite having valid visas is not understood.”
Gondal said the board, in collaboration with the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhand Committee and the district administration, has made security and accommodation arrangements for Indian and local Sikh yatrees.
Meanwhile, a 178-member delegation has arrived in Pakistan from the UK to take part in the upcoming 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev – the founder of Sikhism, slated to be held at the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara on November 12.
The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, originally known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is a highly revered Sikh shrine where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life and is his final resting place.
Meanwhile, the Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate Indian Sikh pilgrims to travel to Pakistan to visit the shrine, will be inaugurated on Saturday.