image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Sri Kartarpur Sahib Awaits Global Sikh Sangats

* Kartarpur Peace Corridor has been applauded Worldwide.

* The multi-million dollar project supported by India and Pakistan has raised peace expectations and global Sikh profile.

* Kartarpur Sahib is the first Sikhi centre where Guru Nanak Sahib laid the foundation of the egalitarian Sikh institutions of Sangat-Pangat. He taught Naam, Kirat and Wand Shakna Sikhi principles by own example as a house-holder.

* Yet, there were only 45,000 visitors in the first three months!

    It has been described as the corridor of international peace and harmony. It connects Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (Gurdaspur, Punjab, India) and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur (Narowal, Punjab, Pakistan).

On February 12, 2020, ex-MP and Indian Minorities Commissioner, Sardar Tarlochan Singh wrote on a discussion forum: In three months, only 45000 Sikh pilgrims went to Kartarpur&hellip. Few Sikhs from abroad made announcements of putting up hostels, guest houses and got publicity and praise but no action taken.

Such frustration about fewer visitors than expected by those who understand the great Sikhi importance of Sri Kartarpur Sahib and the international significance of the Peace Corridor, is understandable. It is possible that the security formalities discourage many number of visitors. It not quite like khullay darshan didaar from the Indian Panjab side.

However, Sardar Tarlochan Singh and others are also right that a message should go out that the Sikhs love this historic shrine. This would give a positive hope to the authorities who have spent millions of dollars for this corridor. The project is being watched with great interest worldwide as a unique peace initiative between two countries otherwise at loggerheads with each other since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. Sikh religious leadership should actively promote the great Sikhi significance of Sri Kartarpur Sahib to justify the Peace Corridor initiative in which India and Pakistan have shown such remarkable co-operation to commemorate Guru Nanak 550th Parkaash year.

As a commentator, Prof. Nirmal Singh, put it, the project got globally noticed and set off a universal longing for peace and harmony. Sikhs did not do it. But Sikhs have been cited positively and they have a chance to help. It will not be in Sikh interest to be on the wrong side of history if future developments also resolve our long articulated longing and need to reconnect with and save our heritage.   

There are historical reasons why, in the past, Kartarpur Sahib did not acquire the same publicity as some other Sikh shrines. These reasons can be traced back to the divisions created by the Guru succession dispute after Guru Nanak Sahib. Suffice to say that the Sikh historical and religious significance of Kartarpur Sahib is quite unique amongst the great historical Sikh shrines. Founded by Guru Nanak Sahib, it was the first Sikh town to be followed by others in later Guru history.

Sikhs worldwide should not get discouraged by any bureaucratic or security issues. In true Sikhi spirit they should remember the ancient Sikhs who travelled long distances for darshan of Sikh shrines. Every Sikh should especially remember Sri Kartarpur Sahib in his/her Ardaas when seeking darshan didaar of gurdwaras on the Pakistan side of divided Indian subcontinent. Increased Sangat traffic in the Peace Corridor will also promote peace between India and Pakistan. The world is watching.

Gurmukh Singh OBE