Sikhs await opening of Kartarpur corridor to sacred shrine in Pakistan

By AFP
Published: November 8, 2019
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In this picture taken on November 6, 2019 Sikh pilgrims walk in front of the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib ahead of its opening, in the Pakistani town of Kartarpur near the Indian border. - Thousands of Sikh pilgrims are expected around the world to visit to Pakistan to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev which falls on November 12. PHOTO: AFP

In this picture taken on November 6, 2019 Sikh pilgrims walk in front of the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib ahead of its opening, in the Pakistani town of Kartarpur near the Indian border. - Thousands of Sikh pilgrims are expected around the world to visit to Pakistan to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev which falls on November 12. PHOTO: AFP

KARTARPUR: A corridor that will allow Sikhs to cross from India into Pakistan to visit one of the religion’s holiest sites is set to open on November 9, with thousands expected to make a pilgrimage interrupted by decades of conflict.

Sidhu accepts Imran’s invitation to attend Kartarpur Corridor’s opening ceremony

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will see off the first group of pilgrims, and they will be welcomed by his Prime Minister Imran Khan at the shrine marking the grave of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak at Kartarpur, just four kilometres (two miles) inside Pakistan.

Sikh pilgrims visit the shrine in Nankana Sahib, some 75 kms west of Lahore on November 7, 2019, on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. - A corridor that will allow Sikhs to cross from India into Pakistan to visit one of the religion's holiest sites is set to open on November 9, with thousands expected to make a pilgrimage interrupted by decades of conflict. PHOTO: AFP

Sikh pilgrims visit the shrine in Nankana Sahib, some 75 kms west of Lahore on November 7, 2019, on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. – A corridor that will allow Sikhs to cross from India into Pakistan to visit one of the religion’s holiest sites is set to open on November 9, with thousands expected to make a pilgrimage interrupted by decades of conflict. PHOTO: AFP

The Kartarpur Corridor marks a rare example of cooperation between the nuclear-armed rivals, who have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 and in February conducted tit-for-tat airstrikes after a suicide bombing killed 40 Indian troops in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK).

The deal allows for up to 5,000 pilgrims a day to cross a secure corridor and bridge between the two countries, leading directly to the grave Guru Nanak.

“They are very excited,” said custodian of the Kartarpur shrine Ramash Singh Arora, adding he hoped the initiative would pave the way for similar access to other Sikh sites in Pakistan in the future.

“If you look at the history, the foundation of Sikhism is from Pakistan.”

In the months leading up to the opening, Pakistan employed hundreds of labourers to spruce up the shrine, including building a border immigration checkpoint and a bridge, as well as expanding the site’s grounds.

The opening comes just days ahead of the Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday on November 12, which is marked with celebrations by millions of Sikhs around the world.

“For over 70 years, pilgrims haven’t had the chance to cross over, to come over, and that is just… it’s just… it’s going to be a really emotional moment,” said Karan Deep Singh, a pilgrim from Malaysia.

Others hoped the corridor would help mend ties between Pakistan and India after years of hostility.

Sikh pilgrims have their lunch at a shrine in Nankana Sahib, some 75 kms west of Lahore on November 7, 2019, on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. - A corridor that will allow Sikhs to cross from India into Pakistan to visit one of the religion's holiest sites is set to open on November 9, with thousands expected to make a pilgrimage interrupted by decades of conflict. PHOTO: AFP

Sikh pilgrims have their lunch at a shrine in Nankana Sahib, some 75 kms west of Lahore on November 7, 2019, on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. – A corridor that will allow Sikhs to cross from India into Pakistan to visit one of the religion’s holiest sites is set to open on November 9, with thousands expected to make a pilgrimage interrupted by decades of conflict. PHOTO: AFP

“It should improve and I’m hoping that it will improve. Definitely. Because the goodwill is oozing,” said Bhajan Singh Grewal from Australia.

The Sikh faith began in the 15th century in the city of Lahore, which is now part of Pakistan, when Guru Nanak began teaching a faith that preached equality.

In pictures: Signing of Pakistan, India historic Kartarpur Corridor agreement

There are an estimated 20,000 Sikhs left in Pakistan after millions fled to India following partition in 1947 that sparked the largest mass migration in human history and led to the death of at least a million people.

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Reader Comments (1)

  • Bunny Rabbit
    Nov 8, 2019 - 5:17PM

    Heres to more such collective activities. I would like to know what was on the menu. Recommend

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