We are one of the most blessed countries in the world. From abundant natural beauty to cultural diversity, there is so much to explore and be thankful for. Besides being blessed with beautiful and historical Mosques, Pakistan also hosts magnificent shrines for Sikhs. One such place is Nankana Sahib that holds immense historical importance for Sikhs all over the world. Visitors can see the orange flag ‘Nishan Sahib’ proudly representing the Sikh community in Pakistan. Tripkar brings you some interesting historical facts about the origins of Sikhism in Pakistan:
Sikh Community in Pakistan
There is no single societal pattern that can be affixed to Pakistan’s social and cultural dimension. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs alike share the Punjabi culture since pre-partition. Various events and festivals are carried out in hopes to celebrate religious and cultural centenary wholeheartedly. Sikhs have been residing in Pakistan, mainly in Lahore since a long time. In 2016 almost 400 pilgrims from India were issued visas to travel to Pakistan in order to celebrate their religious festival. Gurdwara Panja Sahib, a religious site of immense importance and historical patronage is visited by the Sikh community in hordes. Embedded on a rock in the temple is the hand print of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
Located at a distance of 80 kilometers from Lahore is Nankana Sahib where Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, was born in 1469. Nanak Dev was known to spread his wisdom and knowledge for years and had a sincere group of devotees following his footsteps. Guru was known as the dispeller of darkness, harbinger of light and the most enlightened. History reports when Guru Nanak Dev was born the city flourished and the diseased were blessed with health.
The place where Guru lived was first known as Rai Bhoi di Talwandi. However, the name was changed to Nanakana Sahib as a means to commemorate him as a religious figure. The place is home to beautiful shrines and temples connected to the main Gurdwara dedicated to Nanak Dev. After the partition in 1947, Sikhs had to abandon their religious shrines and migrate to India. However, after the Pakistani Government took over, the restoration and conservation of shrines has been given importance. Since 1947 Sikh pilgrims from all over the world visit the religious shrines and observe there prayers.
Following are some of the religious shrines located in Nankana Sahib:
Gurdwara Janam Asthan
The Janam Asthan Gurdwara is dedicated to Guru Nanak Dev’s parents, Baba Kalo and Mata Tripta. Historians have professed that the religious shrine was constructed in the 16th century and comprises of a dome and a huge pavilion. After partition, 15 Sikhs were allowed to stay in order to maintain as well as carry out their religious prayers.
Gurdwara Bal Lilah Sahib
The Gurdwara was constructed in 1748 in order to highlight Guru Nanak Dev’s infancy and childhood. It is widely known that Guru Nanak Dev used to bring enlightenment and prosperity to the people who shaped his childhood. The shrine has a play ground that holds immense religious importance. It is believed that Guru Nanak Dev used to assemble people here and preach them. There is a holy pond visited by many for its spiritual powers.
Gurdwara Chhevin Patshahi Sahib
This religious shrine is dedicated to Guru Hargobirid, a celebrated companion of Guru Nanak Dev. The shrine represents Guru Nanak Dev and his companion’s favorite resting place after his return from Kashmir in 1620. The temple is connected to another Gurdwara in Nankana Sahib.
Gurdwara Kiara Sahib
Gurdwara Kiara Sahib is located at a distance of 2 kilometers from Janam Asthan. The word Kiara means an agricultural plot or field. The shrine commemorates Guru Nanak Dev’s occupation to graze cattle. It is reported that Guru Nanak Dev performed miracles and turned barren lands into green fields promoting agriculture and cattle rearing. Gurdwara Kiara Sahib is situated amidst green fields representing farming and cultivation.
Guru Nanak’s birthday is celebrated in full vigor and enthusiasm for three days. The auspicious day is celebrated every year in the month of Kartik (October/ November) according to the Hindu lunar calendar. Sikhs from all over the world arrive at his birthplace, Nankana Sahib. Before the birthday a religious reading is carried out for 48 hours which ends in the morning of the auspicious day. The reading narrates Guru Nanak’s journey, enlightened wisdom and religious passages.
After the religious reading, a parade is conducted which signifies unity. During the parade, Sikhs walk together while singing and reciting passages from their holy book. The devotees carry Sikh flag representing ‘Nishan Sahib’ while parading through streets. The parade also includes a special procession of Sikh martial arts, known as ‘Gatka’, which proudly highlights the strength and bravery of Sikh community. The festival includes a scrumptious lunch prepared for everyone to enjoy. The food is served by a group of volunteers selected irrespective of caste or creed. A special prayer is organized at the sunset known as ‘Rehrasi’.
With the Sikh community an essential part of our country, book a tour to Nankana Sahib to discover the culture and interesting history of the Sikhs.