Lahore, Apr 11: Around 4000 Indian Sikh pilgrims will cross into Pakistan through the Wagah Border today, to celebrate the Besakhi festival visiting several Gurudwaras in their neighbouring country.
The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) will welcome the visiting Indian Sikh pilgrims at the Wagah Border. ETPB Deputy Administrator (Shrines) Faraz Abbas said that the three-day festival would start on Saturday. According to him, the Sikh pilgrims would arrive at Wagha Border, have lunch, and then leave on the same trains for Gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hassan Abdal where they would stay at the Gurdwara and various schools.
He said the ETPB had made all arrangements for this purpose.
PSGPC President Sardar Bishan Singh said he would give the pilgrims gifts and the Guru ka langar (guru's charity meal). He said that about 12,000 pilgrims from across the world were expected to attend the festival. These include about 100 pilgrims from Afghanistan, 100 from the UAE, 80 from Iran, 2,000 from Europe, and 6,000 from across the country, the Daily Times quoted him as saying.
Singh said that the Indian pilgrims would visit various sacred places during their stay in the country, including Gurdwara Nankana Sahib Gurdwara Sacha Sauda, Kartarpur Sahib, Rohri Sahib and Gurdwara Punja Sahib.
The pilgrims will leave in special caravans organised by the ETPB and the PSGPC, Singh said, adding that they would stay for two days at Nankana Sahib after which they would visit Gurdwara Sucha Sauda. He said that the pilgrims would visit Lahore from April 17 to April 20, staying at Gurdwara Dera Sahib and visiting several gurdwaras of the city. They will return to India on April 20 through the Wagha border.
The Besakhi festival is celebrated to renew the pledge to exercise harmony and brotherhood, as is enshrined in Sikhism through the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib, the last guru of the Sikh faith. To celebrate the festival, the Sikhs visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hassan Abdal, where the 10th guru, Guru Govind Singh, settled around 300 years ago to preach Sikhism.