Baisakhi festival celebrations conclude

Sikh pilgrims from across the globe gather to joyously observe ancient tradition

Imran Asghar/Waqar Ali April 15, 2024
Pakistan is hosting around 3,000 Sikh pilgrims, arrived from India through Wagah Border. PHOTO: APP


The Baisakhi Mela festivities, a cherished tradition in the Indo-Pak Punjab region marking the onset of a new year, came to a close at Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib in Hassan Abdal on Sunday.

Sikh pilgrims from across the globe, including India, gathered to joyously observe their religious festival. Federal Defense Minister Khawaja Asif attended the occasion as a chief guest.

Thousands of devotees, hailing from India, Canada, the UK, and various parts of the world, participated in the colourful ceremonies of the Baisakhi Mela. Khawaja Asif extended goodwill and camaraderie to the visiting pilgrims.

The culmination of the event featured the solemn Palki procession at Gurdwara Panja Sahib, where the sacred scriptures were reverently carried to their designated place. Religious rituals, including the religious bath (Ashnan) and Panja Sahib rites, were meticulously observed by Sikh devotees.

Parbat Singh, accompanied by his family from Amritsar, India, expressed gratitude towards the Pakistani government for facilitating their visit. He praised the dignified manner in which all rituals were conducted at Gurdwara Panja Sahib and appreciated the warm hospitality extended by Pakistanis.
A female Sikh pilgrim from New York, part of a group visiting Gurdwara Panja Sahib, lauded Pakistan's excellent arrangements, highlighting the seamless security measures, comfortable accommodations, and peaceful environment provided during their stay. She expressed plans to share her positive experiences with Pakistan's hospitality worldwide.

Groups of pilgrims also visited Pahari Sakhi Zinda Pir, with separate arrangements made for the accommodation and meals of women and children among the visitors.

Khawaja Asif, speaking at the ceremony emphasised the significance of cultural unity beyond religious differences. He highlighted the upcoming Marriage Act, set to be implemented next month, as a step towards resolving various issues Khawaja Asif underscored Pakistan's commitment to religious freedom, stating that all faiths are welcome to practice their rituals freely. He mentioned the government's focus on enhancing the aesthetics of temples and Gurdwaras, emphasising the responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of visiting pilgrims, who are regarded as esteemed guests.

‘Foolproof’ security

Stringent security measures were enforced to ensure a tranquil atmosphere for the Sikh pilgrims during the Baisakhi Mela.

The district administration had finalised security arrangements for the Baisakhi festival at Gurdwara Sri Punja Sahib. District Police Officer (DPO) Dr Sardar Ghiyas Gul Khan said a foolproof security plan was put in place for Sikh pilgrims.

Devotees from around the world visited Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib in Hassan Abdal to participate in the Baisakhi festival. The DPO said the protection of all religious places and followers was a top priority and they would not allow any miscreant to spread unrest.

Attock DPO Attock supervised a fresh contingent for security deployed at various places.
Around 1,023 police officers and personnel, including six DSPs, 13 Inspectors, 143 upper superintendents, 95 head constables, 728 constables and 36 ladies constables were deployed to monitor the security. He said that apart from this, security cameras, walk-through gates and metal detectors would be installed as well.

He said that besides this regular force, 26 sections of elite commandos were on constant alert and patrol for the protection of Sikh pilgrims while shops close to the gurdwara remained closed and Rescue 1122 officials were present on high alert.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2024.


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