CHANDIGARH: Thousands of devotees thronged gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Patna and other places across the country on Sunday to offer prayers on the occasion of 352nd birth anniversary of tenth Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh.
The festivities this year coincided with the festivals of `Lohri` and `Makar Sankranti`.
Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) is revered by the Sikh community as he founded the `Khalsa Panth`, the warrior Sikh community, at Anandpur Sahib in 1699.
The holiest of Sikh shrines `Harmandir Sahib`, popularly known as Golden Temple, in Amritsar and other gurdwaras elsewhere saw religious fervour to mark the guru`s birth anniversary.
People braved the early morning chill to offer prayers at gurdwaras. The rush of devotees continued in most gurdwraas later in the day also.
Long queues of devotees could be seen waiting for up to two hours to offer prayers inside the main shrine. The entire Golden Temple complex was decorated with special lighting.
Heavy rush of devotees could be seen at the Takht Keshgarh Sahib gurdwara in Anandpur Sahib town, around 85 km from here, since early Sunday morning. It was at this place that Guru Gobind Singh founded the `Khalsa Panth`.
Reports of hundreds of devotees offering prayers at Gurdwara Janamasthan in Patna city in Bihar, the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh, were also received.
Hundreds of people offered prayers at gurdwara Nada Sahib in Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh, where the guru stayed for a few days during his lifetime.
Gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh were decorated to mark the guru`s birth anniversary. Religious processions were taken out at all places in the region on Friday and Saturday to mark the birth anniversary.
Tight security arrangements were made around all leading Sikh shrines in Punjab in view of recent terror-related incidents in the state. At the Golden Temple complex, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) task force members and volunteers kept a strict vigil inside the shrine complex.
At other gurdwaras in cities, towns and villages, hundreds of people could be seen coming to offer prayers. `Langars` (community kitchen), were arranged at most gurdwaras.
Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh greeted people on the occasion and urged them to follow the Guru`s teachings and to maintain peace and harmony.