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LAHORE: A delegation of 421 Sikh yatrees (pilgrims) reached Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur to pay respects at the burial site of the founder of Sikh religion, Baba Guru Nanak Dev Jee.

The Sikh yatrees are on a 10-day visit to attend the 183rd death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who established the Sikh empire.

Sardar Inderjeet Singh of Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee extended a warm welcome to the yatrees upon their arrival at the Kartarpur gurdwara, situated in Narowal district of Punjab.

Inderjeet Singh told APP the Sikh yatrees would stay overnight at the gurdwara and will have breakfast the next morning before traveling to the Samadhi of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in Lahore.

A sumptuous ‘langar’ (communal free kitchen) awaited the yatrees, where they were served different dishes. A medical camp has also been set up for the visitors.

Ranjit Singh established the Sikh empire (1799-1839) at the age of 18 and ruled for 40 years the northwest of the subcontinent. He is known to have defeated the invaders.

The Sikh empire’s frontiers spread over Khyber Pass in the West to Tibet in the East, and Mithankot in the South to Kashmir in the North.

The Samadhi has been built at the site of Ranjit Singh’s cremation and is a holy site for the Sikhs.

The yatrees will attend rites to commemorate the 183rd death anniversary of Ranjit Singh.

As part of the rituals, they will perform Akhand Path on June 29 to mark death anniversary at the samadhi.

The visiting Sikh yatrees told APP they were delighted to visit the sites in Pakistan that hold religious significant for Sikhs.

They said what makes them happier is the hospitality and love of the people of Pakistan who host them like no other.

“Love of Pakistanis pulls us here and we return to the Indian Punjab immersed in the care and affection for the years to come,” one of the yatrees, Urmeet Kaur, said.

The yatrees also hailed the Pakistani government for security provided to them, adding that the Sikh religious sites have been very well-looked after in Pakistan.

Evacuee Trist Property Board (ETPB) Chairman Habibur Rehman Gilani said Samadhi of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is a revered site and has been preserved as per the Sikh traditions.

He said the 183rd death anniversary would be observed with religious fervor and all arrangements have been made to host the yatrees.

The Sikh yatrees reached Pakistan via Wagha Border on June 21 and will return to India via the same route on June 30.