General

Besakhi Festival: Sikh Pilgrims Return To India

Sikh Pilgrims, who had had come to Lahore from India for their religious Besakhi festival on Saturday returned to their homeland through three special trains.
Besakhi is one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar. It is the Sikh New Year festival, which is celebrated on April 13 or 14, and also commemorates 1699, the year Sikhism was born as a collective faith.
The Minister For Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), Tariq Wazir Khan, gave away gifts to the pilgrims on their return, who traveled from three special trains from Wagah border to India.Those who were returning after participating in the event applauded the security arrangements made by the Pakistan government and said that they consider them as more safe in Pakistan than in India. “The love that we got from this country and its people could not be explained in words,” they said.
The pilgrims further expressed their satisfaction over the way the Pakistan government is safeguarding their religious sites.It is pertinent to mention here that this year witnessed a controversy during the pilgrims’ visit when a press statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs of India alleged that its high commissioner in Pakistan had been prevented from meeting Sikh pilgrims at Gurdwara Punjab Sahib in Hasan Abdal.
Pakistani Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said the Evacuee Trust Property Board had extended an invitation to the high commissioner of India to attend the main function of Besakhi at Gurdwara Punja Sahib.However, he said, ahead of the function the ETPB authorities noticed Sikh pilgrims protest for the release in India of a film on Baba Guru Nanak Devji.
Fearing any untoward situation, Dr Faisal said the ETPB authorities contacted the Indian High Commission and suggested the cancellation of the high commissioner’s visit. The Indian High Commission officials agreed to the suggestion.