The 1999 pooranmashi festival celebrating Guru Nanak's 530th gurpurab in Nankana Sahib Pakistan took place following a military coup. The Military presence that year ensured a successful and peaceful event for the return of Sikhs to the Pakistani part of Punjab in more than 50 years.
In 2009 Pakistan experienced a great deal of political unrest resulting in battles between the Taliban and Pakistan government, and thousands of internally displaced persons (IDP). Hundreds of IDPs were provided relief aid by United Sikhs.
The unstable in Pakistan did not deter Sikh pilgrims from wanting to visit Nankana for the 2009 November 540th pooran mashi festivities. Sikhs entering Pakistan from India by railway faced a touch and go situation. Trains were delayed but Sikhs persevered and eventually permission was given October 31 2009 for trains to transport nearly 2000 Sikhs over the India Pakistan border where Sikhs were greeted at the Wagah Railway Station by the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbhandik Committee and Pakistani paramilitary soldiers. The celebrations for Guru Nanak's gurpurab or birthday celebrations were scheduled to begin November 7th.
For many Sikhs a visit to the home town of Guru Nanak and Sikhism's ancestral homeland in the Pakistani half of Punjab for the annual pooranmashi celebration is a once in a lifetime opportunity. A ten day stay includes touring Pakistan to visit historical sites, shrines, and gurdwaras important to Sikhism. The visit culminates with Nagar Kirtan festivities in Nankana Sahib celebrating Guru Nanak's Birthday. Festivities usually take place over a three day period beginning with kirtan and ending with a procession through the town of Nankana.
Pakistani Military Police Accompany Nagar Kirtan Parade Festivites Celebrating 530th Gur Purab of Guru Nanak
Photo © Khalsa Panth