Besakhi festival starts

A view of Gurdwara Punja Sahib Hassanabdal on Wednesday where Sikhs from around the globe gathered to celebrate their religious Besakhi festival
Besakhi festival started on Wednesday at Gurdwara Punja Sahib, Hassanabdal, the third sacred city of Sikh religion.

Thousands of Sikh pilgrims from across the world, including India, Britain, Canada, Afghanistan, Germany and Switzerland, arrived early in the morning to participate in the three-day celebrations.

Yatrees also arrived from NWFP, Tribal Areas, Sindh and Lahore.

Besakhi is celebrated throughout the world, but its celebrations in Pakistan bears special significance for being the birthplace of founder of the Sikh religion, Baba Guru Nanak, at Nankana Sahib near Lahore, and the last abode of their last leader, Guru Govind, in Hassanabdal.

The festival is celebrated on the first day of Besakh, the fifth month of the Bikrami calendar at the beginning of the wheat harvesting season.

Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and Evacuee Trust Property Board have made special arrangements for the boarding and lodging of the yatrees.

However, the yatrees who arrived here in four special trains complained about the poor accommodation facilities as they spent over six hours in the open.

Scores of the pilgrims including women and aged persons, were seen sitting or sleeping in the open in the Gurdwara premises along with their luggage for hours as the organisers — the Evacuee Trust Board (ETB), Pakistan Gurdwara Parpandhak Committee (PGPC) and local administration — failed to provide accommodation to them.

Talking to this reporter, Jagjit Singh Bhullar, member, Gurdwara Parpandhak Committee, India, said yatrees who arrived early in the morning were made to wait for hours as the management had not provided accommodation to them.

He said that they were even not provided a single piece of cloth to protect them from cold as they were much tired during their journey from Wagah to Hassanabdal.

He complained that the local members of their community who had arrived from various localities of Pakistan much before the had occupied the rooms leaving none for the foreigners.

When contacted deputy administrator shrines Faraz Abbass said that the Evacuee Trust Board had vacated five schools and colleges to accommodate the yatrees but they were reluctant to stay there as they wanted to live within the premises of the Punja Sahib which is already packed with the yatrees who have arrived earlier.

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