Around 1,100 Sikh pilgrims have been issued visas who are willing to attend a spring harvest festival called Vaisakhi in Pakistan, which will be observed on April 14 (Wednesday).
Pakistan High Commission in Delhi has approved and issued the visas to the Indian pilgrims.
Vaisakhi — also known as Baisakhi — marks the beginning of solar new year for Hindus and Sikhs. It also marks the historic formation of Khalsa under the leadership of Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
According to Dawn’s report, the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) which looks after places of worship of the minority communities, expects the arrival of around 1,000 Sikh pilgrims this year due to the ongoing third wave of Covid-19.
“Our High Commission in New Delhi has issued visas to over 1,100 Sikh pilgrims for participating in the annual Vaisakhi festival. They will enter the country on foot via Wagah border on April 12 (today),” a spokesman for the ETPB told Dawn on Sunday.
The spokesman further added: “Usually, the Indian government doesn’t allow all (to whom Pakistan issues visas) to proceed ahead to attend various events, including Vaisakhi. That is why we don’t see that all 1,100 will attend the festival.”
The pilgrims will be received and welcomed by Pakistani concerned authorities at Wagha Border today.
Every year, Sikhs visit Pakistan on four religious occasions — Vaisakhi, death anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev, death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak — and spend time in rituals at historical places associated with Sikhism in Pakistan.