Lahore: Thousands of Sikh pilgrims, including those from India, on Thursday joined a large religious gathering at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan's Punjab province to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion.
Authorities put in place special security arrangements for the 'Akhand Pat' gathering in Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak located 60 km from the Punjab capital of Lahore.
CCTV cameras were installed in sensitive areas and policemen were deployed on rooftops to key an eye on crowds, officials said.
According to an official of the Evacuee Trust Property Board, the government body that maintains shrines of minority communities, the Sikh 'yatris' travelled to Pakistan on special trains and buses via the Wagah land border while pilgrims from other countries travelled by air to join the birth anniversary celebrations.
The pilgrims participated in the 'Bhog' ceremony, the official said. "They also joined another ceremony and a firework display was arranged as part of the celebrations," he said.
The Sikh pilgrims will travel to Hasanabdal tomorrow and visit the Panja Sahib Gurdawar. On November 15, the pilgrims will come back to Lahore from Hasanabdal and visit the Dera Sahib Gurdwara.
The following day, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is expected to address a ceremony to be hosted in Lahore by the ETPB for the Sikh pilgrims.
"The pilgrims will start going back to their countries from November 17," the official said.
The Pakistan government is providing the pilgrims transportation, lodging and board free of cost in order to facilitate their participation in the celebrations to mark Guru Nanak's birth anniversary.
The government is also providing complete security to Sikh yatris during their stay in Pakistan, the official said.
About 8,000 Sikhs from around the world, including 3,000 from India, are in Pakistan to take part in Guru Nanak's birth anniversary celebrations.
First Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011, 23:29