Baisakhi at Gurdwara Punja Sahib Cancelled
The decision to cancel Baisakhi at the Gurdwara Punja Sahib comes after the high priests of Akal Takht - the highest religious authority in the Sikh faith - had already announced that the celebrations around the world would be smaller in scale due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government decided to cancel Baisakhi celebrations were scheduled to begin from April 14 at Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal. 3,000 Sikhs from India and 2,000 from elsewhere around the world were to participate in the celebrations.
Imran Gondal, the Deputy Secretary of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), stated that in a meeting of both the ETPB and the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbadhank Committee (PSGPC), it was unanimously decided that there will be no Baisakhi celebrations held at Hassanabdal, and all the Sikh pilgrimages were cancelled.
The Deputy Secretary further claimed that the Ministry of Religious Affairs has already been informed of the decision, and they will be forwarding the decision to the Foreign Affairs’ office and the Indian Government. As such, the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi will not be issuing visas to the Sikh Pilgrims this year.
The decision to cancel Baisakhi at the Gurdwara Punja Sahib comes after the high priests of Akal Takht – the highest religious authority in the Sikh faith – had already announced that the celebrations around the world would be smaller in scale due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Significance of Baisakhi at Gurdwara Punja Sahib
Baisakhi is considered the celebration of the New Year in the Sikh Community, and the formation of Khalsa Panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 – the ceremony was then called the Amrit Sanchar. The inaugural Khalsa was formed in order to take a stand against the religious oppression Sikhs were facing at the time. Khalsa is a term that is used for Sikhs who have been baptised.
Sikhs celebrate Baisakhi by singing Keertan (hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib), listening to history in the form of ballads, called Dhadi Vaars and by sharing free food with all, called Langar. The traditional colors of Baisakhi are yellow and blue to represent the spirit of rebirth and sacrifice of the Panj Pyare, as well as being symbolic of joy and celebration.
Hassanabdal is religiously significant for Sikhs because it was where their last human Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, settled. During the celebrations, they also visit Nankana Sahib – the birthplace of the founder of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak.
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