The universal message of equality of all peoples, peace and harmony and sharing with others, especially those in need, are just a few of the philosophies on which the foundation of Sikhism is laid. Gurdwara Panja Sahib is one of the holiest places in Sikhism which is believed to hold a rock handprint of Guru Nanak. Every year, hundreds and thousands of pilgrims from various parts of the world, especially India and rural areas of Sindh, visit this temple to offer religious rituals in connection with various occasion like Rakhi, Besakhi, birth and death anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, Joti Jott Mela, death anniversary of 5th guru of Sikhism Guru Arjun Dev and last emperor of Punjab Mehraja Rangeet Singh. The langar (holy food) served at the temple is part of the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism. Though today society is divided in many groups, Hindus and Sikhs attend the langar to celebrate equality and prove that they have not forgot the fact that they are all equal beings and must work together. Thousands of Sikh pilgrims from various parts of the world, especially India, reach at the over 100-year-old Gurdwara Punja Sahib Hassanabdal on to attend the Besakhi festival. According to Sikh spiritual leaders, Besakhi is considered as event for revival of Sikhism. According to Sardar Soran Singh, in today’s society filled with the darkness of crime, greed, poverty and homelessness, we must not forget that we are all equal beings and work together. According to a Sikh historian, Guru Nanak while returning from his tour of West Asia broke his journey for a few days at Hassanabdal. He asked his disciples to fetch water from the spring on the top of a nearby hill owned by a saint. The water was refused to the disciple three times. Thereupon, on Guru Nank’s prayer the spring abandoned its original course and started flowing from the spot where the guru himself was sitting. At the same time, the saint’s water reservoir went completely dry. The saint, infuriated by the Sikh miracle, threw rocks and stones at Guru Nanak who continued to sit unruffled. He merely extended his right arm towards the rolling rock and stopped it from harming him. The place became an object of great reverence for his followers, who started calling it Punja Sahib. Subsequently, a gurdwara was built here by the Sikh ruler Hari Singh. The spring water passing through the gurdwara is considered sacred. Later, Guru Nanak and the saint became very good friends. This is evident from the fact that the pilgrimage of Punja Sahib remains incomplete without paying homage to Wali Kandahari on top of the hill. The gurdwara is dedicated to the Punja and the stone has been brought from its original place and fixed there. The stream still provides water to the gurdwara that includes bathing facilities for the pilgrims.
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