Nagar kirtan from Pakistan reaches India for first time since Partition
In a first after Partition, a nagar kirtan (Sikh religious procession) being carried out as part of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, reached India via the Attari-Wagah border from Nankana Sahib in Pakistan on Thursday.
The procession crossed the zero line to enter the Indian side around 3.30pm with the holy saroop of Guru Granth Sahib carried by Golden Temple head granthi Giani Jagtar Singh on his head. The additional granthi of the Golden Temple received the holy saroop on the zero line for continuing the procession that will visit 17 Indian states before culminating at Sultanpur Lodhi, the historic town in Kapurthala district, where Guru Nanak spent his 14 years.
A rousing welcome was given to the holy saroop from Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of the first Sikh master. A red carpet was rolled out on the way of the nagar kirtan and petals were showered on it with newly released shabad ‘Kal Taran Gur Nanak Aya’ sung by Bollywood playback singer Sukhwinder Singh being played in the spectators’ gallery.
Among those present on the occasion were Punjab cabinet ministers, Akali Dal leaders and office-bearers of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) that organised the nagar kirtan.
“Followers of Guru Nanak from Nankana Sahib, Sindh, Peshawar, Lahore and other parts of Pakistan became part of the procession,” said SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal, who along with Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh came with the nagar kirtan from Pakistan.
Ministers OP Soni and Charanjit Singh Channi were accompanied by Amritsar MP Gurjit Singh Aujla and Congress MLAs Sunil Dutti, Santokh Singh Bhalaipur, Sukhwinder Singh Danny and Tarsem Singh DC.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union minister of food processing industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal were among those who presented ‘rumala’ to the holy saroop.
They were accompanied by party leaders Bikram Singh Majithia, Tota Singh, Jagir Kaur, Virsa Singh Valtoha and Nirmal Singh Kahlon. Heads of the Sikh seminaries such as Damdami Taksal were also present.
Outside the integrated check post (ICP), thousands of people gathered to welcome the nagar kirtan led by the Panj Pyaras (five beloved ones of the Guru) and the saroop of the holy book being carried in a bus decorated with flowers. A rush of devotees was witnessed on the Attari-Amritsar road. Langars were organised at different places along the stretch.
Adequate arrangements were made by the Border Security Forces (BSF), Punjab Police and the civil administration to facilitate the devotees. The Punjab Police gave a guard of honour to Guru Granth Sahib at Attari.
Minister Randhawa skips reception
Besides ministers Soni and Channi, their cabinet colleague Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa was also assigned to receive the nagar kirtan at the border on behalf of the Punjab government. But Randhawa, a vocal critic of Akalis and the Badal family, skipped the event. When contacted, Randhawa said, “Since I was returning from Odisha I got late and could not reach in time. This was the only reason behind my absence.”
Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh was also invited by the SGPC to welcome the procession at the border.
SGPC finalises first phase of route
The SGPC, which is organizing the nagar kirtan that came from Nankana Sahib, has finalised the first phase of its route. As per the schedule, the nagar kirtan will leave for Dera Baba Nanak, where the corridor to Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan) is being constructed, on August 2 via Majitha and Fatehgarh Churian.
On August 3, it will leave for Gurdwara Barath Sahib, Pathankot via Batala and Gurdaspur and next day it will go to Jammu via Sujanpur. It will visit Pathankot, Mukerian, Dasuya and Tanda (Hoshiarpur) on August 5 and then leave for Anandpur Sahib via Una and Nangal the next day. It will go to Mohali on August 7 and leave for Gurdwara Nada Sahib, Panchkula, the next day. The procession will leave for Yamunanagar on August 9.