Thursday, 21 June 2007

Sikhs visiting holy shrines in Pakistan


It is heartening to see hundreds of Sikh pilgrims taking trains for Pakistan, to pay obeisance at their holy shrines, and crossing the border easily after nearly six decades.

The family seen waving hands, was going to Gurudwara Dera Sahib to observe the 40th martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev. No less than 500 'jatthas' had left for Pakistan then. The photograph was taken at Attari railway station, sometime back.

Pakistan has one of the holiest sites for Sikhs and once it was a dream for pilgrims to visit these holy shrines. The other photograph was taken recently when pilgrims were leaving for Lahore.

On the left is the recent photograph of a Sikh pilgrim on board a special train, carrying 253 passengers. He is leaving for Pakistan on the occasion of the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

For the sub-continent, it's great news. In the post-partition riots, millions of Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were displaced. The Sikhs, being a small minority, suffered most due to this displacement, in the sense that a micro minuscule population of the community, remained in Pakistan.

Of course, there was a similar exodus of Muslims from Indian Punjab but that was only restricted mainly to one state. There are no less than 156 Sikh shrines in Pakistan, many of them in a bad shape.

Nankana Sahib, one of the holiest shrines of the Sikhs, is in Pakistan and so is Panja Sahib. One only wishes that the restrictions would ease further and Sikhs/Muslims and Hindus, who are the same people bound by common culture, can move across the border, freely and easily just like Europe.

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