A special pilgrim train, Begampura Express, chugged off from the Jalandhar City railway station for Varanasi on Friday here. Around 1,674 devotees from the region, along with at least 100 volunteers, who are travelling in the train, will reach Varanasi on February 20 at around 4pm.
From Varanasi railway station, the pilgrims will board a bus to reach Seer Govardhanpur, the birthplace of Guru Ravidass. The devotees will hold a religious procession at Seer Govardhanpur on February 21, one day before the birth anniversary of Guru Ravidass.
Union minister and Hoshiarpur MP Vijay Sampla and former Jalandhar mayor Surender Mahey, along with other leaders from the region, were present during the flagging off of the train.
The train is scheduled to return to the city on February 24.
The arrangements for this pilgrimage have been made by Dera Sachkhand Ballan of Ballan village in the district. Dera head Sant Niranjan Das is also travelling in the special train to Varanasi.
Officials said the dera had charged Rs 3,000 per passenger for the trip.
Most pilgrims NRIs
The volunteers at the railway station told HT that most passengers travelling in the train were non-resident Indians (NRIs). Out of 20 passenger coaches, at least four coaches were entirely reserved for devotees who came from England to celebrate Ravidass Jayanti in Varanasi.
Kailash Kaler, president of UK-based Guru Ravidass Force, said they had received many requests from people in UK to make arrangements for the journey. Meanwhile, state president of Guru Ravidass Force, Satish Suman, who managed all the arrangements, said almost 75% of the pilgrims who boarded the special train were NRIs.
“This train is primarily meant for facilitating the NRIs as people living abroad come in large numbers to attend this event,” said Satish Suman.
Selena Randhawa, a UK-based devotee, who is on her fifth trip to Varanasi, said, “I have been eagerly waiting for this event as the celebrations are heartwarming.”