Download The Baisakhi Festival is a three-day celebration for the Sikh community around the world – it marks the religion’s founding, the Sikh New Year, and the harvest season.
Sikhism began over 500 years ago in Punjab – regarded as the Sikh homeland in South Asia.
But Punjab is now divided between India and Pakistan, and the holy shrine of Gurdawa Panja Sahib is on the Pakistani side.
Each year thousands of devotees come to Pakistan to visit the shrine for the festival.
Pakistani authorities deploy more than 1,000 security personnel to make sure Sikhs can celebrate in peace.
Mudassar Shah joins the crowds in Northern Punjab.
28 year-old Turanjeet Kaur is one of thousands of Indian pilgrims visiting the holy shrine for the Festival.
She prepares a special prayer for her son.
“I am happy to come here as my three sons have a genetic blood disorder, thalassemia. The other two died because of it. I wished to come here with my son, and here we are. I will take a bath in the holy water here; it’s everyone’s desire when visiting the place.”
Up to 25 thousand pilgrims come to the Gurdwara Panja Sahib shrine – with around three thousand of them from India.
Inside, clergy recite passages from the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, while pilgrims echo the words.
Devotees also flock to a rock that holds the handprint of Guru Nanak Dev, the faith’s founder.
Then they take a bath in sacred water from a stream to wash way their sins.
Pilgrims stay for free in rooms inside the two-storey Gurdwara, with security provided. They can also stay with local hosts in the area.
63-year old Kalyan Singh Afridi happily welcomes pilgrims into his home.
“I live in a rented house and accommodate 50 to 60 people from [Pakistan’s] tribal areas during the festival. We also receive guests from the UK, Singapore, Malaysia, America and India. We are happy when our guests are treated with respect as they have come from foreign countries.”
Young boys sit together in the shrine complex, listening to religious songs on their cellphones, while others repeat the lyrics.
Two big banners outside call for women to use headscarves. Sikhs believe that covering your head is a sign of respect in a holy place.
Sikhs visit this compound to worship twice a year. The second celebration is held in November, to commemorate the birthday of Guru Nanak, the religion’s founder.
This year, Gurdwara was renovated ahead of the festival, with extra rooms built to accomodate the pilgrims.
And security is tighter.
Pakistan’s Punjab government deploys hundreds of police in and around the premises.
And some devotees, especially Indian nationals, are not allowed to go out of the compound –again for security reasons.
The security effort also reflects the warmer relationship between Pakistan and India, which was severely strained after Pakistani militants attacked Mumbai in 2008.
This month, Pakistan’s President visited India – the first time this has happened in seven years. The two neighbours aim to boost bilateral trade soon.
Sun Singh is a member of the Gurdwara Parband Committee – responsible for security and maintenance of the holy shrine.
“We try to give a good message to our guests from India and other countries of love, peace and happiness. We would like them to see the good image of our country and to take a message of love and peace to the world. The security here is the best and we are thankful to the authorities.”
This is the second time16-year old Arien Kaur has come from India to Pakistan for the festival.
“The place where we’re staying is good and we all have good rooms. Last time, the food was not enough for us but this time it is good and we all have sufficient food. We have access to all the facilities we need here. We are respected in Pakistan, so I would say ‘thank you Pakistan!’ for all this.”
1) deploy: mengerahkan
2) pilgrim: peziarah
3) clergy: ulama
4) strained: tegang, memburuk
5) boost: mendorong, memicu
6) blood disorder: kelainan darah
7) shrine: kuil
8) recite: membacakan dengan keras
9) devotees: pemuja
10) commemorate: memperingati
1) What is the Baisakhi Festival and where is it held?
2) How did it originate and who goes there ?
03) What do they do there and why do more than 100 security personel guard the festival
04) Wht do the two neighboring countries hope to achieve through this event and when was the previous one
05) What were some of the comments of the devotees about the festival?