Around 1,000 Indian Sikh pilgrims arrive in Pakistan

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KARACHI, Pakistan

Around a thousand Sikh pilgrims arrived in Pakistan on Monday to participate in the annual Baisakhi celebrations, officials said.

The pilgrims entered northeastern Lahore city through the Wagah border crossing, where they were welcomed by Pakistani officials and local Sikh community leaders, said a statement from the Evacuee Trust Property Board, a state-run body which administers the minorities’ worship sites.

The 10-day celebrations starting will last until April 22 in Hasan Abdal town of northeastern Punjab province.

Thanking Islamabad for issuing visas, Sardar Gurumit Singh Bhog, a Sikh community leader, said the visitors are excited to take part in the spring harvest festival. It also marks the beginning of the new Sikh calendar year.

Under the framework of the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974, a large number of pilgrims from India visit Pakistan to observe various religious festivals and occasions each year.

Pakistan’s Punjab is home to five of the most important Sikh pilgrimage sites, including Baba Guru Nanak’s birthplace in Nankana Saheb district, where he was born in 1469, and Gurdwara (monastery) Panja Sahib in the city of Hasan Abdal, where Guru Nanak’s handprint is stamped on a boulder at the monastery.

The two sites are visited by thousands of Sikhs from neighboring India, Europe and the US every year.

In Sept. 2019, Pakistan opened Kartarpur Corridor with India, allowing Sikhs to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara – the final resting place of Baba Guru Nanak, who died in 1539.

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