In pictures: Pakistan welcomes scores of Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in landmark ceremony
Hundreds of Indian Sikhs made a historic pilgrimage to Pakistan, crossing through a white gate to reach one of their religion’s holiest sites, after a landmark opening of the Kartarpur corridor on Saturday.
Cheering Sikhs walked joyfully along the road from Dera Baba Nanak in India towards the new immigration hall that would allow them to pass through a secure land corridor into Pakistan. Some fathers ran, carrying their children on their shoulders.
Buses were waiting on the Pakistani side to carry them along the corridor to the shrine to Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak, which lies in Kartarpur, a small town just four kilometres (2.5 miles) inside Pakistan where he is believed to have died.
“Generally people say that God is everywhere. But this walk feels like I’m going to directly seek blessings from Guru Nanak,” Surjit Singh Bajwa told AFP as he walked towards the corridor, crying as he spoke.
Pilgrims on both sides of the border hoped the corridor might herald a thaw in South Asian tensions.
Among the first pilgrims was former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who told Pakistani state media that it was a “big moment”.
Many believe it has happened now because of the friendship between Prime Minister Imran Khan, a World Cup winning cricketer-turned politician, and India’s Navjot Singh Sidhu — another cricketer-turned-politician.
Many were emotional, some in tears. Others posed for selfies before a giant gold-and silver-coloured kirpan, the dagger which Sikhs must carry with them at all times as an article of their faith.
“Life is short,” said one of the Indian pilgrims, Davinder Singh Wadah. “Everyone has to go… so why not enjoy life and make this world a heaven, and I think this initiative is the beginning of it. “
The opening comes just days ahead of the Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday on November 12 — an anniversary of huge significance for the global Sikh community.
Header image: Sikh pilgrims visit the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, on Saturday. — AFP