It was almost 2 am Saturday, but the streets in Ludhiana were filled with Hindu and Muslim devotees. They were patiently waiting to welcome the Nagar Kirtan, that had started from Pakistan’s Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev, as part of the 550th birth anniversary of the Sikhism founder.
The Nagar kirtan, which crossed Wagah border on August 1, was the first ever since the Partition.
The procession carrying paalki with pious saroop of Guru Granth Sahib entered Ludhiana with its first stop being Gurdwara Katana Sahib around 9 am Friday. The procession toured the city entire night and finally reached Gurdwara Alamgir Saturday morning, leaving ahead for Raikot. The international Nagar Kirtan would be culminating at Gurdwara Ber Sahib in Sultanpur Lodhi in coming days.
The chants of ‘Jo Bole So Nihaal’ reverberated outside Jama Masjid, Durga Mata Mandir and Shri Gyan Sthal Mandir of Ludhiana as both Hindu and Muslim communities showered petals on the paalki and their representatives honoured the Sikh devotees accompanying the procession. The devotees gathered outside temples, mosque and gurdwaras to welcome the Nagar Kirtan.
Pritpal Singh, president, Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib, Ludhiana told The sunday Express that it was heartwarming to see that both Muslim and Hindu communities made special arrangements to welcome the Nagar Kirtan.
“While Muslim community gave us a warm welcome outside Jama Masjid, the Hindu community welcomed us outside Durga Mata Mandir and Shri Gyan Sthal Mandir. Guru Nanak did not belong to any one religion. He never preached this religion theory but said that all humans are one. There is only one God. Representatives of both mosque and temples had contacted us in advance expressing their wish to welcome Nagar Kirtan and we were delighted,” he said.
“It is only the politicians and dirty politics that divide people. Earlier also we invite temple and mosque committee members to our programmes and vice-versa,” he said.
At around 2 am, the nagar kirtan had reached Jama Masjid in Field Ganj where the area shopkeepers were waiting with the karha prasad (halwa) — which is most commonly served in gurdwaras— that they had prepared. Also, the Masjid management put up a stall serving water, juice and biscuits with a board that read ‘Guru Nanak Dev ji dey 550 saala Prakash Purab tey- Muslim bhraavan walon Sikh bhaichaarey nu lakh lakh wadaiyaan’ (Muslim community wishes its Sikh brothers on 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak).
“The shopkeepers offered to prepare karha prasad and a stall was also put up. Elders and children from the Muslim community showered petals on the paalki. We also honoured the Sikh devotees with siropa and there were chants of ‘Jo Bole So Nihaal’. It was 2 am but there was a festive mood outside the mosque and excitement never dropped,” said Muskteem Ahrari, secretary, Jama Masjid, Ludhiana.
Moving ahead, the procession reached Durga Mata Mandir at 2.30 am where again Sikh devotees were honored by the temple committee members and there was a petal shower.
Balbir Chand Gupta, joint finance secretary, temple committee, said, “We organized fruit langar for devotees. We honored Sikh devotees with chunnis from temple. Guru Nanak never divided people on basis of religion. There was no doubt among temple management committee members on being a part of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary celebrations. All our members were present to welcome them. Politics being played out in name of religion is condemnable but Nanak belongs to all.”
The Nagar Kirtan passed from Doraha, Sahnewal and then Samrala Chowk, CMC road, Jail road, Field Ganj, Ghumar Mandi, Sarabha Nagar, BRS Nagar in Ludhiana city and left from Alamgir on Saturday morning.