Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Sikh Yatra: The view from Pakistan

Gurudwara Nankana Sahib

Sikh Yatra: The view from Pakistan
Amid the seemingly unremitting gloom that engulfs as daily it is sometimes hard to discern hope – but hope there is and today it is the tiny Sikh community that provides it. Sikhs are one of our smallest minorities but the ripping asunder that was Partition means that many of their holiest shrines are on 'our' side of the border – whereas the bulk of Sikhs live on the other – Indian – side. They are a minority within the Indian population as well, perhaps two or three per cent, which is no impediment to one of their number becoming president, both unthinkable and constitutionally impossible here in the Land of the Pure.

Over 200 Sikh yatrees (pilgrims) have just returned home and declared themselves well-satisfied by the welcome and the protocol they received here, their sense of feeling secure in a country currently in the throes of a significant disturbance in the security environment, and their pleasure at the way their shrines and monuments have been preserved. Hospitality exceeded their expectations and they were quick to dispel rumours that their holy places had been neglected by our government. Sikh shrines have stood on the land which is now Pakistan for centuries and will stand for centuries to come. They are as much a part of our heritage as they are of the Sikhs. The Sikhs have gone home happy and we will welcome them again next year. We should perhaps spend a few thoughtful moments pondering why it is that we can welcome two hundred Sikhs as guests; but have difficulty living with the three or four million Christians, Hindus Sikhs and Buddhists who live within our own borders.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009,


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