Nankana Sahib; Pakistan: Every year Sikhs from all over the world assemble at Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, on the occasion of the birthday of Guru Nanak. The largest Jatha (contingent) is sent by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Amritsar after getting Clearance from the Govt. of India. The three day religious ceremonies are mainly looked after by this Jatha. In fact the S.G.P.C. Sewadars plan, control and execute the celebrations. Sikhs from other countries join them in making the occasion memorable. The Jatha from India forms a mixed lot of people who come on pilgrimage to Nankana Sahib for diverse reasons. Very few of them come out of sense of devotion and religious commitment. Some come out of their nostalgic craving to visit their erstwhile homes and hearths which they had to abandon at the time of India’s partition in 1947 in order to feel the promised ‘glow of freedom.’ Some come just out of the curiosity to see life and places of a country that once formed part of India, some come to buy goods that are cheaper in Pakistan. There are also Indian intelligence men in the Jatha who sniff around looking for the real or imaginary training camps where Sikh separatist are supposedly given training in sophisticated warfare both regular and guerrilla.

The Sikhs from other countries come mainly because of their devotion. No other activity interests them. They are generally concerned with ceremonies and the condition of the Gurdwaras. Whereas they feel happy at the arrangements made by the Pakistan government and also at the proper maintenance of the Gurdwaras, they do not approve of the manner in which Sikhs from India conduct themselves. They also disapprove of the taking away of all the offerings and coverings (rumaIlas) by the SGPC Jatha. Some of the pilgrims from Canada and US.A. this year were particularly distressed at the poor conditions of the anonings (Chanani) and ‘rumallas’ being used for the Guru Granth Sahib and no distribution of ‘Karah Parshad’ doing the course of the Akhand Path be the practice on such occasions.

They also complained of the reported negligence by the SGPC in not making arrangements for AmritSanchar for those of the Sindhi Community living in Pakistan who have been making repeated requests for Amnt Sanchar.

Article extracted from this publication >>  December 6, 1985