Sikh pilgrims visit Pakistan to celebrate Baisakhi festival

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Sikh pilgrims take part in Baisakhi festival along with their families at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, a city located near Islamabad. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Sikh pilgrims take part in Baisakhi festival along with their families at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, a city located near Islamabad. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Sikh pilgrims take part in Baisakhi festival along with their families at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, a city located near Islamabad. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Sikh pilgrims take part in Baisakhi festival along with their families at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, a city located near Islamabad. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Sikh pilgrims take part in Baisakhi festival along with their families at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, a city located near Islamabad. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Sikh pilgrims take part in Baisakhi festival along with their families at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, a city located near Islamabad. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Sikh pilgrims take part in Baisakhi festival along with their families at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, a city located near Islamabad. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
Updated 16 April 2018

Sikh pilgrims visit Pakistan to celebrate Baisakhi festival

  • Thousands of Sikh pilgrims from India and other parts of the world visit Pakistan to celebrate the festival
  • Pilgrims say they pray for peace and hope to see Pakistan and India as good neighbors

ISLAMABAD: Sikh pilgrims from India and other parts of the world have been visiting Pakistan to participate in the annual Baisakhi festival at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, a city located some 45 kilometers northwest of Islamabad.

Some 3,000 Sikhs have come from India through Wagah border on special trains, while 1,000 pilgrims arrived from other parts of the world — including Canada — to visit the famous shrine where their founder, Guru Nanak, is believed to have imprinted his handprint on a boulder there.

“We are very happy to come here and see a peaceful Pakistan,” Ajit Singh, one of the pilgrims, told Arab News.

Ajit Singh is in Hasan Abdal for the first time, to celebrate the Baisakhi festival here. He is planning to visit other sacred places as well as other parts of Pakistan during his visit.

“We pray for peace in our region,” he said. “We hope both Pakistan and India will forget their enmity and work together for betterment and prosperity of their people.”

But the arrival of Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan has triggered a controversy between the two South Asian countries. 

India’s External Affairs Ministry claimed that the administration in Islamabad had “prevented” its High Commissioner from meeting the visiting Sikh pilgrims.

In response, Pakistan’s Foreign Office released a statement saying that India’s High Commissioner was invited to the main function of Baisakhi and Khalsa Janamdin at the Gurdwara Panja Sahib, but there was “strong resentment among segments of Sikh Yatrees, gathered there from different parts of the world, protesting the release in India of some film on Baba Guru Nanak Devji” which they objected to.

Given the “emotionally charged environment and the possibility of any untoward situation”, said the statement by the foreign office, the relevant Pakistani authorities contacted the Indian High Commission officials and suggested the cancelation of the diplomat’s visit.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony, along with other relevant government departments, has made facilities available to pilgrims at the site including accommodation, food, medical doctors and currency exchange.

Tanuj Singh, another pilgrim, has visited Pakistan several times with his family members to celebrate the Baisakhi festival.

“We come here every year and are thankful to the government and people of Pakistan for well maintaining all our religious sites and gurdwaras (Sikhs places of worship),” he told Arab News.

Tanuj Singh urged the governments of Pakistan and India to normalize their relations through dialogue and join hands together for peace in the region. “Every religion of the world teaches peace and harmony, so we should all act upon those teachings to make this world a peaceful place to live in,” he said.

During their ten-day stay in Pakistan, the Sikh pilgrims will also visit a number of other sacred places as well in other parts of the country, including Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur cities.

The arrival of Sikh pilgrims from India and other parts of the world marked a significant development in religious tourism in Pakistan, said Sajjad Qamar, spokesperson for the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony.

“The participation of Sikh pilgrims in the festival in large numbers shows their confidence and faith in renewed peace in Pakistan,” he said, adding that the government had been trying its best to provide maximum facilities to the pilgrims during their stay.

Qamar told Arab News that his ministry, along with provincial governments, had been reaching out to countries like China, Vietnam and South Korea among others to increase religious tourism in Pakistan.

“Pakistan is home to holy places of almost all religions, including Sikhism and Buddhism,” he said. “We hope to see a manifold increase in religious tourism in the coming months and years.”

Tight security measures were implemented in and around Gurdwara Panja Sahib where the Sikh pilgrims gathered to celebrate the festival.

“We are thankful to the people for the great hospitality and we will go back with the message of peace and love from Pakistan,” Param, a pilgrim from India, told Arab News.


Meet Fai Khadra, the US-Palestinian multi-hyphenate doing it all

Who is Fai Khadra? Meet the US-Palestinian social media star who is doing it all. Supplied
Updated 42 min 24 sec ago

Meet Fai Khadra, the US-Palestinian multi-hyphenate doing it all

  • Fai Khadra wears many hats. In addition to being a musician, he also dabbles in modeling, sculptures, DJ’ing and most recently set design
  • Next, he plans to roll out his own label focusing on everyday basics that are organic and reasonably priced

DUBAI: "I’m a textbook Virgo," is one of the first admissions from Fai Khadra when we meet at the Farfetch pop-up at the Sole DXB festival.

For the astrology uninitiated, those born between late August and mid-September are defined as meticulous, conscientious and perfectionist, which Khadra, who jetted to Dubai to DJ at the two-day streetwear event, most certainly is.

But one need not know his star sign to come to that conclusion. Just one glimpse at him — he was wearing cropped jeans and classic white Jordans offset by a bright orange, collared jumper and bleached locks — reveals someone who is obviously down to earth but straight-to-business.

Fai Khadra wears many hats. In addition to being a musician, he also dabbles in modeling, sculptures, DJ’ing and most recently set design. Supplied

While a quick Google search of the 28-year-old, affectionately known as @yourboyfai to his 742,000 Instagram followers, will show hundreds of headlines revolving around his close friendship with international supermodel Kendall Jenner, there is a lot more to the US-Palestinian talent than simply the people he surrounds himself with.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

we don’t date he’s just my date

A post shared by Kendall (@kendalljenner) on

Khadra wears many hats. In addition to being a musician — he is currently working on a debut musical project — he also dabbles in modeling, sculptures, DJ’ing and most recently set design.

He dreamed up the sleek, eye-catching sets for Summer Walker’s “First and Last” tour as well as The Internet’s 2019 Camp Flog Gnaw performance.

For Khadra, set design was a natural transition since it combined both his passions for music and architectonics.

And in addition to his fastidious attention to detail, he holds a degree in architecture, which he obtained shortly after completing his last two years of high school at the American School of Dubai.

One would think that dreaming up spectacular sets, working on new music and installations, and jetting off to far-flung locations for DJ’ing and modeling gigs would be enough to keep someone occupied.

However, the older brother of DJ twins Simi and Haze reveals that he is just getting started, as he has plans to roll out his very own concept soon.

“I find that it’s really hard to find good basics, whether that’s in apparel, beauty or homeware,” Khadra said.

He plans to launch his own label focusing on everyday basics that are super comfortable, expertly tailored and reasonably priced.

At the core of his concept is a commitment to crafting each product from sustainable, organically sourced materials.

Indeed, sustainability holds a very special meaning to the environmentally conscious Khadra, who reveals that for every trip he makes, including his most recent visit to Dubai, he takes steps to offset his carbon footprint by donating to initiatives that plant trees, a gesture also practiced by model Bella Hadid.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thank you @farfetch for having me @soledxb !!! Was a quick but fun one #withFarfetch

A post shared by @ yourboyfai on

A release date has yet to be announced for the new concept, likely because Khadra is also occupied with exploring various creative avenues. But how does he balance it all? 

“For me, it’s really just all the same creative process,” he noted.

Khadra shares that in addition to exhibitions, music and traveling, his Palestinian roots also inspire his art, despite the fact that he has never had the chance to visit.

“I’m super inspired by the strength and resilience of the Palestinian people,” he muses. “I think they (Palestinians) show so much love and humanity, and I’d love to go. It’s probably one of my top destinations to visit,” he revealed.

As for what is next for the multifaceted creative? “I’m just super blessed that I get to wake up every day and do what I love,” he said. “I hope that I can continue to find interesting ways to be more creative and enlighten the world in some way if I can.”