PURI: Amid heightened tension along the LoC, a group of Hindu pilgrims from Pakistan, on a tour to visit pilgrimage sites in India, said they were allowed to practice their religion fearlessly in Pakistan, and that they never had to face any trouble.
In fact, they said, they have two Asthans of their Guru, one at Pakistan and another at Raipur. “Sant Shadaram Saheb (their guru) undertook a long pilgrimage and reached Mathelo Sindh (in Pakistan) nearly 250 years ago, where he settled and enshrined the Holy Shadani Darbar at Hayat Pitafi,” said Nanik Lal, a visiting devotee.
On their 25-day trip, the 94-member group including 24 women from Ghotki district of Sindh province, had a darshan of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra in Puri on Saturday.
While some of the pilgrims, aged between 2 and 80, were visiting India for the second time, many visited Jagannath temple for the first time. Special arrangements have been made for their stay at the mutt of Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati.
“This is my second visit to India and first to Jagannath Dham at Puri. We are overwhelmed at the spiritual atmosphere of Puri and hospitality of the people,” said Vikram Pal, a devotee, who runs a grocery and grains business at Ghotki.
The pilgrims crossed the border at Wagah on July 18, toured various Hindu religious sites before arriving at Puri on July 26. They spent two days in Uttarakhand and visited pilgrimage sites at Haridwar. They were at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh from July 23 to 25.
They are on the pilgrimage with the support of Sant Shadani Darbar at Raipur in Chhattisgarh. They would visit the Darbar and attend birth anniversary of their Guru before returning to Pakistan.
The pilgrims offered prayers at the trinity in Jagannath temple, moved around the campus and later attended a preaching session of Puri Shankaracharya before leaving Puri in the evening.
“We have visited several holy places in the country and are returning back with good memories,” said another pilgrim Niranjan Chawla, who owns a cotton industry.