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Celebrations for Sikhism founder's birthday begin in Pakistan

Thousands of Sikh pilgrims from across the globe have gathered in Pakistan’s northeastern Punjab province to celebrate the 552nd birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of their religion.

The 10-day celebration began on Wednesday in Nankana Sahib district -- the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak -- located around 80 kilometers (49 miles) from Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.

The celebrations began with Akhand Path -- a reading of 1,430 pages of Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism.

Some 3,000 Sikh pilgrims from neighboring India entered Pakistan through the Wagha border crossing on Wednesday to take part in the celebrations.

Despite heightened tensions, longtime rivals Pakistan and India have facilitated the Sikh community on the occasion of Baba Guru Nanak's birth anniversary, one of the main festivals of Sikhism.

Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi issued 3,000 visas to Sikh pilgrims, enabling them to attend the celebrations, whereas New Delhi, for its part, reopened the visa-free Kartarpur crossing, which connects the Indian and Pakistani Punjab.

The pilgrims will also visit their holy sites in several parts of Punjab, including Kartarpur sahib, where Guru Nanak settled and died in 1539.


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