A jatha of over 1,100 pilgrims left by three special trains from the border railway station of Attari on Friday on a 10-day pilgrimage to the Sikh historical shrines in Pakistan.
This includes 924 pilgrims who are part of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) jatha . The remaining pilgrims are part of the jatha sent by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), which includes pilgrims from the national capital and its surrounding areas. Pilgrims from Gwalior joined the SGPC and DSGMC jathas at Attari.
Besides paying obeisance at the Sikh shrines in Pakistan, the Indian pilgrims will also participate in the birthday celebrations of Guru Nanak, who was born in the Pakistani town of Nankana Sahib. The Gurpurb celebrations are scheduled for November 25.
As this is an important event, a number of pilgrims from India are expected to cross over to Pakistan through the Wagah road check post over the next few days. Sikhs from all over the globe flock to Nankana Sahib for the birth celebrations of the first guru.
SGPC gives warm send-off
SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh, along with his staff, gave a warm send-off to the pilgrims from the gurdwara body headquarters at Amritsar. The SGPC jatha is being led by Gurmit Singh Bhooh, an SGPC member, with Amarjit Singh Bhalipur as the deputy leader.
In an informal chat with the media, Harcharan Singh said it was unfortunate that 51 people from the original list of 975 were denied visa or not given the permission to undertake the pilgrimage. While the names of some persons in the list were struck off by the Indian home ministry, the others were denied visa by the Pakistan high commission in Delhi, he said.
The chief secretary said SGPC officials accompanying the jatha will also take up the issue of the proposed ‘pilgrims’ corridor’ connecting the Indian border town of Dera Baba Nanak with Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak breathed his last. The gurdwara at Kartarpur across the Ravi is visible from Dera Baba Nanak. The corridor plan has been discussed between officials of the two countries in the past.
Bhooh said that during their stay in Pakistan, the SGPC would discuss details related to the ‘kar sewa’ that the SGPC proposed to undertake of Gurdwara Dera Sahib, a historic shrine situated in Lahore. They would take up the issue with the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), he said, while pointing out that the ‘kar sewa’ of this shrine had been allotted to the SGPC sometime back.
“We will also study the state of other historical shrines that we will visit. Accordingly, the SGPC can prepare a proposal for the PSGPC for the ‘kar sewa’ of some of these shrines,” he added.
The pilgrims after getting the customs and immigration clearance boarded the special trains for their journey to Pakistan. The trains will take them directly to Panja Sahib.
Nov 20: Pilgrims leave from Attari for Panja Sahib
Nov 23: Leave Panja Sahib for Nankana Sahib
Nov 24: Will pay obeisance at Sacha Sauda gurdwara at Farooqabad and return to Nankana Sahib
Nov 25: Participate in Gurpurb celebrations at Nankana Sahib
Nov 26: Leave Nankana Sahib for Dera Sahib in Lahore
Nov 28: Pay obeisance at Gurdwara Roori Sahib in Anamabad and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur and return to Lahore
Nov 29: Leave Lahore for Attari