Political disparity has turned India and Pakistan into rivals but until today they have shared heritage that will always keep them together. Most Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims of India have a bond of their ancestors, religion or culture across the border. Similarly, most Pakistanis have a connection with India.As the popular English saying goes, “there are always two sides to every story,” it is not different for the story of the people of India and Pakistan. Today, people on both sides hold some kind of bitterness for each other in their hearts.On the flip side people who travel across the border never go back disappointed because of the warm hospitality, they receive.
“It’s [Pakistan] not all about Islam and terrorism,” said Sohail Abrar during his expert seminar on summer holidays in Pakistan-2012. Sohail is a Pakistan national, who lives in London and has been organising religious and trekking tours to his home country for the past nine years. Sohail explained that Pakistan is home to many other religions, “especially Sikhism.” Guru Nanak-the founder of Sikhism was born in Pakistan in 1469 and his shrine called Nankana Sahib stands tall till today. Every year in November “thousands of Sikhs from around the world, mainly India visit Pakistan as their holiest pilgrimage and take back beautiful memories for lifetime.”
Sikhism is the fifth largest religion with more than 20 million Sikhs around the world, recorded during the census in 2001. It is a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of Guru Nanak and the nine Sikh gurus who followed him. According to the BBC: “Sikhism stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals.” Guru Nanak was born in a Hindu family. He went on an exile for over 30 years to study Hinduism and Islam in depth, before finding Sikhism in the mid fifteenth century.
Not much is known about Guru Nanak but some incidences of his life and his teachings are written in the holy book ‘Guru Granth Sahib,’ which Sikhs consider as a “living Guru” today. The cemetery of Guru Nanak is in Baghdad, Iraq but Sikhs are unable to go there. However, there are 28 historical gurudwaras (Sikh temple) in Pakistan, out of which Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib are open to Sikh devotees annually.
Nearly 2,000 to 3,000 Sikhs have been visiting the two gurudwaras every year in the past decade, according to the Pakistan Research Repository. Sikhs believe that once in their lifetime they must complete this pilgrimage in order to complete their lives in the name of their religion.
Saurabh Dhillon, 32, who visited Pakistan from Punjab, India last year with a group of 37 devotees said: “The initial official process of getting the visas and planning the trip was complicated. But, once we were in Pakistan our first stop was at Nankana Sahib, where we received a very warm welcome.”
Posted by Prerna
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