Asia

Guru Nanak: Sikh founder's 550th birthday celebrated

Sikh pilgrims take part in a religious ritual as they gather to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, at Nankana Sahib Image copyright AFP
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Celebrations have taken place in India and Pakistan to mark the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak - the founder of Sikhism.

The anniversary comes just a few days after the historic opening of the Kartarpur corridor, which allows Indians access to one of Sikhism's holiest shrines in Pakistan without having to apply for a visa.

Tensions between the neighbours have made it difficult for Indian pilgrims to visit the site in Pakistan in recent years. But an agreement reached last month allows Indians to make the 4km (2.5-mile) crossing to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur - where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life.

On Tuesday, Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan gathered at Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak, which is about 80km (50 miles) from the city of Lahore.

Sikh pilgrims take part in a religious ritual as they gather to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, at Nankana Sahib Image copyright AFP

Large numbers of devotees, including women, took part in the religious rituals.

Sikh pilgrims take part in a religious ritual as they gather to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, at Nankana Sahib Image copyright AFP

The auspicious day for Sikhs was also marked in India, where Guru Nanak's birth anniversary is an annual public holiday.

A Sikh devotee takes a holy dip on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi on November 12, 2019 Image copyright AFP
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Sikh devotees gathered in huge numbers at the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara in the capital Delhi.

Sikh devotees gather to pay their respects on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi on November 12, 2019 Image copyright AFP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the nation on the occasion, saying it was "a day to rededicate ourselves" to Guru Nanak's "dream of a just, inclusive and harmonious society".

Though Guru Nanak's anniversary is an important event for Sikhs annually, this time the celebrations were more special due to the opening of the Kartarpur corridor.

Devotees from across the world visit the Kartarpur shrine every year to commemorate his birth. Indian Sikhs will now be able to visit with just their passports, but they will not be allowed to leave the site or stay overnight.

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, in north-western India, is the holiest Gurdwara (where Sikhs worship). On the eve of the anniversary, it was lit up to host processions as Sikh worshippers took part in the three-day celebration of Guru Nanak's birth.

The Golden Temple lit up as Sikhs watch from a window Image copyright Reuters
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On the first day of the celebrations, Sikhs read the Sikh holy book - the Guru Granth Sahib - from beginning to end.

As is the tradition on the second day, the holy book was paraded through the streets of Amritsar on Monday in a hand-held carriage.

The procession was led by five people representing the original Panj Pyare - the Five Beloved Ones - who helped shape the religion.

Sikh devotees carrying the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji - the holy book of Sikh religion - in a hand-held, golden carriage Image copyright EPA
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Media captionFind out more about the Kartarpur corridor, which leads to one of the holiest sites in the Sikh religion

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