Islamabad: The religious celebration, the arrival of thousands of Sikh devotees and opening of Kartarpur Corridor marks is a rare moment of peace between Pakistan and India amid tense relations.
Hundreds of Sikh devotees, donning colourful turbans and headscarves, on Tuesday celebrated the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikh religion, Guru Nanak, in Pakistan. The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9 brings double delight to the Sikh community. It took Pakistan and India nearly 72 years to cover the distance of four kilometres to build the visa-free corridor but the day has finally arrived.
“We are not only opening [the] border but also our hearts for the Sikh community,” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced earlier on the inauguration day as the country welcomed visitors from all over the world to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib — the holiest Sikh shrine in the world.
“This unprecedented gesture of goodwill from Pakistan is a reflection of our deep respect for Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji and religious sentiments of Sikh community” Imran stated, adding that the road to prosperity of region lies in peace.
“I pray for PM Imran Khan’s long life and health for what he has done for the Sikh community,” said Gurdeep Kaur, a Sikh devotee from New Delhi.
Among the Sikh pilgrims is 90-year-old Harbans Singh, 90, who is visiting Pakistan after around 70 years. After paying his respects at the shrine, he visited his home village in Pakistan’s Jaranwala city in Faisalabad, looking for his childhood home and friend. The friend, he learned later, had passed away.
“Coming to Pakistan is like coming back to home,” Singh said in a video shared online, adding that he was touched by the respect and love shown by the local people.
Another heartening video widely shared on social media was a conversation between a Pakistani bus driver and Indian journalist Ravinder Singh Robin. “I don’t think you are as happy as I am. Tears of joy fill my eyes to see Sikh people coming to the home of their Guru,” Sadam Hassan said, adding that Indian Sikhs visiting Pakistan on a pilgrimage was like Muslims visiting Makkah for Hajj.
As millions of Sikhs are marking the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak around the world, the biggest ceremony is being held in Pakistan at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib where thousands of Sikh pilgrims have arrived from India, Canada, UK, UAE and Europe. The opening of the visa-free Kartarpur peace corridor has made the annual event more special.
To facilitate visa-free travel of 5,000 pilgrims arriving through the Kartarpur Corridor from India on a daily basis, Pakistan has set up around 76 immigration counters. The white-domed shrine and complex features a tent village to accommodate up to 10,000 guests, medical centre, IT centre, museum, currency exchange booth, shopping kiosk and a free food hall for 2,000 people.