ISLAMABAD: Nearly 3,000 Sikh pilgrims reached Lahore from India through the Wagah Border crossing on Sunday to participate in celebrations of the 554th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, Radio Pakistan reported.
Many Sikhs see Pakistan as the place where their religion began as Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in a small village, Nankana Sahib, near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore. For up to 30 million Sikhs around the world, a white-domed shrine which lies in Kartarpur, a small town just four kilometers (2.5 miles) inside Pakistan where Nanak is believed to have died, is one of their holiest sites.
A border crossing was opened in November 2019 allowing visa-free access from India to Kartarpur in a rare moment of cooperation in the hostile relationship between the two nuclear-armed countries.
“During the 10-day stay in Pakistan, pilgrims will visit Gurdwara Janamasthan Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Punja Sahib Hassanabdal, Gurudwara Sacha Sauda, Gurdwara Dera Sahib Lahore, Gurudwara Rohri Sahib Aimenabad and Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur Narowal,” Radio Pakistan reported, naming several Sikh holy sites. “The main ceremony will be held at Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib on Monday.”
The Sikh faith began in the 15th century in Punjab, a region including Kartarpur which is split today between India and Pakistan, when Guru Nanak began teaching a faith that preached equality.
There are an estimated 20,000 Sikhs left in Pakistan after millions fled to India following the bloody religious violence ignited by partition in 1947, which sparked the largest mass migration in human history and led to the death of at least one million people.