More than 11,000 sikhs participate in Baisakhi festival in Pakistan

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Islamabad, Apr 15 (UNI) More than 11,000 Sikh Yatris participated in the three-day celebration to mark the Baisakhi festival at the Gurdwara Sahib, Hasanabdal which concluded yesterday with the ''Bhog'' ceremony.

The yatris or pilgrims performed religious rituals during the three-day celebration which had started on Saturday, The News quoted an official of the Evacuee Trust Property Board as saying.

About 8,000 Yatris were Pakistani Sikhs, 3,000 were Indians and over 500 belong to other countries, he added.

The Evacuee Trust made elaborate arrangements to facilitate these Yatris during their stay at the holy site. Protocol officer of the Trust Faraz Abbas accompanied the Indian Sikhs to oversee their needs.

The festival has religious significance as Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru, laid the foundation of the Panth Khalsa --the Order of the Pure Ones-- on this day in 1699.

Major activities and special prayer meetings on this day are organised in Gurdwaras.

At the end of the Baisakhi Ardas, congregants receive specially prepared Kara Prasad or sweetened semolina. This is followed by a ''Guru Ka Langar'' or community lunch. Later during the day, Sikhs take out a Baisakhi procession under the leadership of the Panj Piaras amid the rendition of devotional songs by the participating men, women and children. Mock duels, Bhangra and Gidda performances make the procession joyous and colourful.

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