Corridor festivity soaks pilgrims in spiritual verve

Sikh devotees gather near the zero line in large numbers to pay obeisance as they face Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan on the day of the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor at Gurdaspur. (PTI Photo)

 A halo of spiritual gaiety engulfed Sikh devotees who thronged the otherwise sleepy township of Dera Baba Nanak to pay obeisance at the revered Sikh shrine of Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, just over 3 kms from the Indian side on the border. 

At around 1.45 pm on Saturday, the first Jatha (group of pilgrims) crossed over to the Pakistan side for the forward journey to the shrine just minutes away. 

The moment left everyone with an emotive sense of veneration. It was a dream every devout Sikh had cherished for long. The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, spent the last 18 years of his life in the Kartarpur Gurudwara and the only way Indian devotees could pay obeisance at the shrine was through binoculars placed at the border town of Dera Baba Nanak.

What makes the event special is that the opening of the historic corridor coincides with the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. 

Amid prayers and hymns in the backdrop of the celebrations, the township wore a festive look. Roads, marketplaces were all decked up. Milk white tents adorned the highway leading to Pakistan. The state-of-the-art passenger terminal on the Indian side in Dera Baba Nanak appeared no less than a swanky airport with passenger lounges, immigration counters all topped up with an air of spiritual zest.

Outside the terminal building, a giant symbol of the Sikh faith, 'Ek OnKar', which is a central tenet of Sikh religious philosophy, meaning ‘the one and only one’ or the unmanifest God in power, soaked devotees in religious fervour. The Jatha of pilgrims that left for the Kartarpur Sahib shrine was loaded with a majority of VIPs and well-known personalities, including former PM Manmohan Singh, his wife, Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh, his cabinet colleagues, Punjab MLAs, MPs, Union ministers Harsimran Kaur Badal, Harjit Puri, noted Apex court lawyer H S Phoolka, Navjot Sidhu, Sunny Deol and others. 

Amid tight security, multiple buses ferried devotees to the terminal point leading to the Kartarpur Sahib shrine. Pakistan had exempted its $20 fee from pilgrims for today and for November 12.    

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