Thousands of Sikh pilgrims from across the globe including India gathered in the Nankana Sahib District of Punjab, to celebrate the 552nd birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of their religion. The 10-day celebrations began on Wednesday in Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Baba Guru Dev Ji.
Pakistan is home to some of the most important pilgrimage sites for Sikhs. They include the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak, who was born in 1469, Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, and Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal.
To participate in the celebrations, thousands of Sikh yatrees reached Pakistan from India through the Wagah border crossing. The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi issued 3,000 visas to the pilgrims, whereas New Delhi reopened the visa-free Kartarpur crossing.
Spokesman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board Amir Hashim said after arrival in Pakistan, the Sikh pilgrims will be sent to Nankana Sahib, where the main birth anniversary celebration will be held on Friday. He said all arrangements have been finalized and pilgrims will be provided special facilities and foolproof security in Pakistan. He said leaders of minority communities will also participate in these celebrations.
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Dehli leader Sardar Balvinder Singh told the media on arrival in Pakistan that the Sikh yatrees were contented with the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, and thanked Pakistan for the protection of Gurdwaras in Pakistan.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi extended a warm welcome to the Sikh pilgrims in a statement issued in Islamabad. “Pakistan looks forward to welcoming Sikh pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib through the Kartarpur Corridor from November 17,” he said.
As ceremonies to mark the 552nd birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji begin today at Darbar Kartarpur Sahib, we welcome thousands of Sikh Yatrees from India, Afghanistan, US, UK, Canada and beyond to Pakistan. May Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message of peace & harmony prevail.
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) November 17, 2021
Kartarpur crossing was opened in November 2019 but it was shut last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pakistan reopened the corridor for the Sikhs but New Delhi delayed its permission until this week.