Pakistan on Friday issued around 3000 visas to Indian Sikh pilgrims on the eve of the 552nd Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev from November 17-26.
"Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has issued around 3000 visas to Indian Sikh Yatrees to participate in the 552nd Birth Anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak in Pakistan from 17-26 November 2021. During their stay in Pakistan, the Sikh Yatrees would pay obeisance at different Gurdwaras including Gurdwara Janam Asthan in Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur," read a Pakistan High Commission release.
Visas of the Sikh pilgrims have been issued under the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974, which provides for the visit of Sikh pilgrims from India to visit a large number of Sikh pilgrims from India visit Pakistan for the birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak.
The 1974 Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines between India and Pakistan is a set of principles that was implemented while keeping in view the sentiments and devotion of the various communities in the two countries.
The protocol states that such visits from one country to the other shall be allowed without discrimination as to religion or sect; up to 20 parties may be allowed to visit from one country to the other every year, while the number could be revised from time to time; Every effort should continue to be made to ensure that places of religious worship mentioned in the agreed list are properly maintained and their sanctity preserved, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
Thousands of Sikh Pilgrims residing in countries other than India would also be visiting Pakistan to attend the event.
"Pakistan High Commission in India extends profound felicitations to the Sikh community in India and across the world on the 552nd Birth Anniversary of the founder of Sikh religion. The High Commission also wishes a spiritually rewarding yatra to the pilgrims visiting Pakistan," tweeted Pakistan High Commission of India.
India on Thursday said that a Jatha of around 1,500 pilgrims will visit Pakistan from November 17 to 26 through the Atari-Wagah Integrated Check Post, as per the 1974 bilateral protocol between India and Pakistan on Visits to Religious Shrines.
The move came keeping in view the significance of the upcoming occasion of Guru Nanak Gurpurab, and the sentiments associated with the religious festival, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during a media briefing.
"It''s been decided that a ''jatha'' of around 1,500 pilgrims will visit Pakistan from Nov 17-26 as per the 1974 Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines b/w India-Pakistan," Bagchi said.
"They [the jatha] will visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Sri Panja Sahib, Dera Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib and Gurdwara Sacha Sauda," he added.
Guru Nanak Jayanti, also known as Guru Nanak Gurpurab, celebrates the birth of the first Sikh Guru and is considered one of the most sacred festivals among Sikhs. The day is celebrated on the full moon day of the Kartik month as per the Hindu calendar. It is also marked as Kartik Poornima. This year the day falls on November 19.
Earlier in this year, Pakistan has denied permission to Sikh pilgrims from India on two occasions in June this year; one on the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev Ji and the second on the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji, the MEA spokesperson said.
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