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Faith Must Override Political Bickering Over Nanak Celebrations, Say Sikh Leaders

There will be symbolic 550 devotees in the ‘jatha’ under the banner of the Anandpur Sahib Heritage Foundation to be taken on the historic journey to the revered Sri Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan to participate in celebrations of first Sikh master Guru Nanak’s Dev’s 550th birth anniversary.

The Guru’s abode for the last part of his life, and the place of his final rest, is being thrown open for visa-free travel to a general mass of followers of the Sikh faith from the Indian side in November this year following an agreement between the two nations, torn by conflict since Partition in 1947.

Faith Must Override Political Bickering Over Nanak Celebrations, Say Sikh Leaders, Lifeinchd

Photo By : Life In Chandigarh

The pact, fulfilling a longstanding demand by devotees, has triggered a wave of elation among devout Sikhs across the world, with thousands wanting to be among the first to undertake the daylong journey of faith along the less than 6 km Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak. Work is underway at a frenetic pace on both sides of the border to complete the road and other facilities for pilgrims en route on schedule despite several hiccups, including delays in land acquisition.

Inviting devotees wanting to be part of the ‘Anandpuri Jatha’, which will be leaving for Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara from Sri Anandpur Sahib, Chandigarh and Hoshiarpur on November 30, the foundation’s Managing Trustee Sodhi Vikram Singh said the 550 faithfuls will be ferried to Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan in 13 luxury buses after assembling at Dera Baba Nanak.

Considered a direct descendant of Baba Suraj Mal, elder son of 6th of the 10 Sikh Gurus, Guru Hargobind, Sodhi informed that number 13 is considered auspicious in Sikh faith as against the general belief that it is an unlucky figure.

He said the foundation is in touch with Indian and Pakistani authorities responsible for border crossing and travel and a final word on approval for the ‘jatha’, along with other details and formalities, are awaited. In all likelihood, the devotees will have to fill up a form, format for which will be provided by the Pakistani government. The expenses for the daylong travel are expected to be in the region of Rs 2000-2500 per devotee apart from the applicable US $ 20 entry fee charged by the Pakistan government from foreign travellers, he added. 

Supporting the ‘jatha’ initiative of the Anandpur Sahib Heritage Foundation, Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha President Prof. Sham Singh and General Secretary Khushal Singh, Global Sikh Council President Gurpreet Singh and Dr Gurpreet Singh Sandhu from the Institute of Sikh Studies, who were also present at the media interaction, made an impassioned appeal to members of the Sikh faith across the world to immerse themselves completely in reverence of the Guru Nanak and pledge to follow his core teachings of humility, universal brotherhood, being one with Nature and gender equality.

Denouncing the running battle, apparently for political mileage, between the Amarinder Singh led Congress Government in Punjab and the Sikh religious umbrella body Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), controlled by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), they said this is no time to score brownie points but to rise above all differences and celebrate the occasion in a befitting manner. There should be no political messaging and no political interference in the celebrations, they asserted.

They said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had set a perfect example in this regard by extending the state government’s full support to the celebrations of the 350 birth anniversary (Prakash Utsav) of 10th Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh at Patna Sahib in 2017. He had done it in total reverence to the Guru and not allowed any political or administrative interference in the celebrations. 

Gurpreet Singh of Global Sikh Council informed that Giani Harpreet Singh, acting jathedar (head priest) of the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, the Akal Takht, has called a meeting of association of all Sikh bodies and well respected representatives of other faiths and organisations in Ludhiana on October 20 to discuss and finalise details of the celebrations.

He said it is time that followers of the Sikh faith dwelled deep on issues which were close to the Guru’s heart. Giving examples of deviations from the guru’s teachings, he said the current trend of image worship was strictly against Sikh tenets. The followers of the faith must also introspect whether they have given the status in society to women as propagated by the Guru. If not, then they must take correct their attitude towards women. This will be true reverence to the Guru on his 550th birth anniversary, he added.  

Ms. Sartaj Lamba, who is arranging travel and logistics for the ‘jatha’, and who was also present at the media interaction, can be reached on M: 8725002575 or mail id :

Sodhi Vikram Singh can be reached on his mail id :  by APR Media House is an enjoyable digital reading startup, which keeps you abreast of the latest meaningful happenings of interest to large sections of folks in Chandigarh tricity, and expats from the region. It has been promoted by a public spirited senior journalist and media consultant with a view to encourage good quality and healthy journalism, a dire need of the times.

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