Three special trains ferrying 900 devotees chugged off for a 10-day pilgrimage to Sikh historical shrines in Pakistan on Wednesday.
Among the pilgrims is an 834-strong ‘jatha’ being led by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) members Raghbir Singh Saharan Majra and Hardev Singh Roogla. The remaining pilgrims are travelling in their individual capacity after having secured visas from the Pakistan high commission in Delhi.
The SGPC ‘jatha’ was given a warm send-off by SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh at Teja Singh Samundri Hall in the Golden Temple complex. After being cleared by the Indian customs and immigration officials, the pilgrims boarded the trains at the Attari station, with many chanting verses from the Gurbani.
The trains will take the pilgrims to the historical shrine of Panja Sahib at Hasan Abdal, where, as is the tradition, they will celebrate Baisakhi on April 14. The following day, they will move to Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak.
On April 18, the devotees will leave for Dera Sahib in Lahore, where they will pay obeisance at Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Narowal and Gurdwara Roori Sahib in Gujranwala during their three-day stay.
The ‘jatha’ will return home on April 21. SGPC additional secretary Daljit Singh Bedi has asked all those who could not get visa for the pilgrimage to take back their passports from the SGPC office in Amritsar. The visa was denied to 60 persons out of the list of 894 that was forwarded to the Pakistan high commission.