Amritsar, Nov.20 : The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) today sent a Jatha or a delegation of Sikh pilgrims of nearly one thousand to Pakistan to take part in the 546th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder and first spiritual master of the Sikhs.
The jatha is being led by Gurmeet Singh and will stay in Pakistan for ten days. The pilgrims will pay obeisance at historical Sikh shrines, including Guru Nanak Dev’s birthplace in Sri Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hassan Abdal, Gurdwara Sacha Sauda in Farooqabad, Gurdwara Rohri Sahib in Aimanabad and Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Narowal district and other places.
Guru Nanak Dev was born at Rai Bhoi Ki Talvandi (present day Nankana Sahib, Punjab, Pakistan) near Lahore. He spent the last years of his life at Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, situated about three kilometers from the International Border that separates India and Pakistan.
Sikhs from India have been demanding the creation of pilgrims corridor from Dera Baba Nanak on the Indian Side to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.
Talking to ANI, Santokh Singh, a resident of Hyderabad, said, “I am visiting Pakistan for the first time and I feel privileged to get this chance to visit our historical shrines situated in Pakistan.”
Kushwant Kaur, another Hyderabad resident, said “It is only because of the permission of both governments that we are being allowed to pay obeisance at our religious and historical places in Pakistan. Visiting devotees have urged both governments to ease visa formalities so that they are able to visit these religious places situated in both countries.”
A Pakistan High commission official informed that the mission has issued 2850 pilgrimage visas to Sikh pilgrims to attend the event from November 20 to November 29 in Pakistan.
Sikh devotees living in Pakistan also visit India to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple and other Sikh shrines in India.
Harcharn Singh, Chief Secretary of the SGPC, said they would certainly take up the visa reform matter with the governments of India and Pakistan and added that the SGPC would reinitiate the process of getting permission from Pakistan to begin renovation work at the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib
There are more than 172 Sikh shrines in Pakistan, but the Pakistan government grants visas to visit only six shrines.
Over 5000 Sikh devotees are expected to gather at Pakistan from across the world for this momentous occasion. (ANI)