NANKANA: 

Sikh pilgrims from various parts of world including India, Canada, UK and from inside the country especially from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reached Nankana Sahib to take part in Baba Guru Nanak’s 549th birth anniversary celebrations at main Palki procession on Saturday.

According to Sikh rituals all pilgrims wash their feet before entering the Janam Asthan.

Parveen Kaur, 80, who lives in London and came with her daughter and daughter-in-law told The Nation that she was born in Narowal. “I then went to London where I spent most part of my life. This is my first visit to Gurdawara Janam Asthan and the experience has been wonderful and memorable,” she said.

Sikh girls from Peer Baba , Swat, were all dressed up in religious attire for Guru Nanak birthday celebrations. Vejeta Kaur, 15-year-old, from Swat was visiting Nankana Sahib for the first time. “Coming here and representing the peace and harmony that is the hallmark of the culture of Swat is something that I am very proud of,” Vejeta said.

Ram Chand, who came from Buner, said they want Sikh girls to wear regions dresses. “The orange-coloured dresses are religious symbols of Sikhs. It is a lifetime experience and one must not miss it, “he said.

Jatha Singh Harri of village Mehal Khurdo, Tehsil Mehal Kala of district Barnala, India, said Sikhs built a mosque for 10 Muslim families in his village. He praised Pakistan's arrangements for yatrees stating 'they have won our hearts’. “My family lives in Australia and Canada but I asked my children to love Pakistan as Baba Guru Nanak was born here,” Jatha Singh said.

On the occasion 'Khalistan Referendum 2020' banners could be seen on all walls of Janam Asthan along with pictures of Bhindranwala Singh, who was killed during 1984 Operation Blue Star carried out at Golden Temple in Amritsar by the Indian army.

A number of stalls selling bangles, ready-to-wear- clothes, ice cream and souvenirs had been set up. Free medical camps and stalls giving away bottled water had been set up for pilgrims. A jalebi stall was the centre of attraction.

Palki procession which is also called Nagar Kirtan with Garanth Sahib started journey from Gurdwara Janam Asthan and passing from seven other gurdwaras in Nankana Sahib including Paiti Sahib, Palia Sahib, Tambu Sahib, Panjhvin Padshahi, Chehnvin Padshahi, Salji Sahib and Giyara Sahib concluded at the main religious ceremony.

Group leader Sardar Gurmeet Singh said Sikh pilgrims bring message of peace, friendship and harmony to Pakistan and always receive very friendly response from the people here. “Pakistan is the land of Sikh Gurus and Sikhs love this land. Therefore, we promote Sikh-Muslim friendship,” he said.

Chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board Siddiqul Farooq addressing the main ceremony at Guru Nanak Janam Asthan said that founder of Sikh religion gave message of peace. He assured Sikhs from all over the world that the government will cooperate in establishment of Guru Nanak University in the city, adding that a committee has been formed under Barjees Tahir as its chairman.

Chairman ETPB said more residential rooms in Gurdwaras will be built. “We have established online charity system and now anyone who wants to donate money for building new residential buildings can do so and the process is transparent,” he said.

MPA Ramesh Singh Arora appealed Sikh pilgrims coming from all over the world to convey true sentiments about Pakistan. He said minorities in Pakistan have complete freedom to practise their religion.

Delegations of all three committees of Sikhs included Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Delhi, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) of India have sent their delegates for Baba Guru Nanak birth anniversary celebrations.

Pilgrims performing their sacred rituals will leave for Punja Sahib, Hassanabdal on Sunday (today). They will return to Lahore on November 9. The pilgrims will leave for their respective countries on November 11.