Thursday, April 14, 2011
Over 1,400 Sikh yatrees from India and over a thousand from Fata and rural Sindh have reached Hassanabdal to celebrate the 312th three-day festival.
On early Tuesday morning Indian Sikh pilgrims led by Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) member Gurwinder Singh Shampura arrived through two special trains from Lahore via Wagah border. It may be mentioned here that 341 devotees were denied permission to accompany the Jatha.
Much enthusiasm was observed at the Punja Sahib which was giving a festive look as women and children were wearing colorful dress and men with yellow and blue turbans.
Hundreds of the devotees, including men and women, were seen reciting the verses from the Guru Grunth, the holy book of the Sikh religion.
According to the Sikh religion, the Besakhi festival is celebrated only at the holy city of Hassanabdal, where lies the Gurdwara Punja Sahib. In 1921, it was decided by the Gurus (elders) of the Sikh religion to celebrate the event on the first day of Sunsikrat month of Besakh in memory of the day of the first Besakh in the year 1699 when the 10th Guru of the Sikh religion awarded Punj Kaaf slot and symbol to Guru Goband at the city of Anandpur Sahib (India).
The festival would be concluded on April 14 and the pilgrims will go to Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, and return to Dera Sahib, Lahore, on April 17. They will also visit Dera Rohri Sahib, Aimanabad, and Kartarpur in Narowal, before they return to India on April 20.
Moreover, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) with the help of Pakistan Sikh Gurdawara Prabandhak Committee had made arrangements of boarding and food for pilgrims.
Meanwhile, leader of Indian Sikh pilgrims and Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) member Gurwinder Singh Shampur talking to newsmen said Sikhs living both sides of the border wanted peace and better relations between India and Pakistan.He said that the Sikh yatrees consider Pakistan as their second home because some of the holiest places of the Sikh religion situated here. He said that the Indian Sikh community considered Pakistan as their holy land and its people as their brethren.
The Sikh pilgrims’ leader said that Pakistani government always accorded warm welcome to them. He said that the both Punjabs culture, taboos, language, dresses and living style were same and they were living in the same environment for decades that was the reason that they considered both Punjabs as brothers.
He said that said Pakistan was very important for Sikhs because Guru Nanak Dev was born and died here.