Amritsar, October 6, 2008 : Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC), the premiere governing body of Sikhs, has today sent a delegation of nearly 100 Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan to attend the 474th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Ram Das, the 4th great Guru of Sikhs.
This is for the first time since partition of India that a delegation of Sikhs is visiting Pakistan especially for birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Ram Das. The devotees will mark the occasion at Gurdwara Chuna Mandi, the birthplace of Guru Ram Dass, situated in Lahore on October 9.
"We are very happy this time. The pilgrims are going on the occasion of Gurupurab. We request that we should be given enough freedom so that maximum number of people are able to visit the Gurudwaras," said Harbeant Singh, Secretary of Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee
Devotees have urged the Governments of India and Pakistan to abolish provisions for visas for pilgrims.
"We are going to visit the Gurudwaras in Pakistan. We will visit Nankana Sahib, Chuna Mandi and other Gurudwaras in Pakistan. I am going there for the first time. We request the Governments of India and Pakistan to send more and more Sikh pilgrims for religious visits," said Attal Singh, one Devotee
As per Nehru-Liakat pact between India and Pakistan, both the governments were to allow the Indian Sikh devotees to visit their historical shrines situated in Pakistan four times in a year.
However, after the recent confidence building measure (CBMs) have enabled various delegations from both sides to visit each others' country on more occasions for religious purposes. People on both sides of the divide have appreciated this lenient gesture, which started this year.
Besides SGPC , the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has also sent a Jatha of 100 Sikh devotees to Pakistan on the occasion through Wagah land route.
Guru Ramdas Sahib (Jetha ji) was born in 1534 at Chuna Mandi of Lahore in Pakistan. He wrote 638 hymns in 30 Ragas, these include 246 Padei 138 Shlokas, 31 Ashtpadis and 8 Vars and are a part of Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs.
Guru Ramdas, who was fourth of the nine Sikh Gurus, is known to have nominated his youngest son (Guru) Arjan Sahib as Fifth Nanak.
Besides Gurdwara Chuna Mandi, the Jatha would also visit pay respects at various others historical Sikh shrines including Punja Sahib, Dera Sahib, Nankana Sahib, Sancha Saudah Sahib and Rahra Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib during their seven-day tour to Pakistan. By Ravinder Singh Robin