Thousands of Sikh pilgrims from all over the world gathered at a shrine in Pakistan on Sunday to celebrate the religious festival of Baisakhi, the Sikh New Year and harvest festival.
Baisakhi, also known as Vaisakhi, is celebrated on April 13 or 14 every year and also marks the anniversary of the founding of the “Khalsa Panth” in 1699 by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. The Khalsa formalized the collective identity of the Sikh faith.
Despite recent tensions between Pakistan and India, nearly 2,000 Indian Sikh pilgrims traveled across the border to celebrate at the Panja Sahib shrine in Hasan Abdal, near the capital Islamabad on Sunday.
Devotees take part in parades, sing hymns, distribute food and bathe in holy water at the shrines, or gurdwaras.
Devotees take part in parades, sing hymns, distribute food and bathe in holy water at the shrines, or gurdwaras.Farooq NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images
The shrine is considered particularly important to Sikhs as it holds a boulder believed to bear the handprint of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.
Pilgrims also visited the shrines of Nankana Sahib — the birthplace of Guru Nanak and Kartarpur Sahib — Guru Nanak’s home in Pakistan, and at the Golden Temple — also known as the Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib in India’s Amritsar.
Baisakhi celebrations were also held across northern India. Devotees take part in parades, sing hymns, distribute food and bathe in holy water at the shrines, or gurdwaras.
Sikh pilgrims take part in rituals inside the gurdwara or Sikh temple during the Baisakhi, festival in Jammu and Kashmir state on April 14, 2019.
Sikh pilgrims take part in rituals inside the gurdwara or Sikh temple during the Baisakhi, festival in Jammu and Kashmir state on April 14, 2019.Saqib Majeed/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
To facilitate hassle free cross-border travel for religious devotees, India and Pakistan are in talks to build a corridor that will connect two Sikh temples between the two countries.
Due to open in 2019, the so called Kartarpur corridor will be a five kilometer (3.1 miles) long passage that will enable devotees to travel from the Indian border town of Gurdaspur and across the international border into Pakistan.
Sikhs celebrate Baisakhi in the Rainawari area of Srinagar, in Indian-controlled Kashmir on April 14, 2019.
Sikhs celebrate Baisakhi in the Rainawari area of Srinagar, in Indian-controlled Kashmir on April 14, 2019.Muzamil Mattoo/NurPhoto/Getty Images
There are 25 million Sikhs around the world, with about 700,000 living in the United States. Most Sikhs are in India.
This year also marks the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak and major celebrations are planned across India.
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