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    NANAK, the founder of Sikh religion, was born in 1469, and his birthplace and other places associated with his religious activities are situated in Pakistan.

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    Background: NANAK, the founder of Sikh religion, was born in 1469, and his birthplace and other places associated with his religious activities are situated in Pakistan. Every year Sikhs from England, India, Afghanistan, USA and many other parts of the world perform pilgrimage to these places in Pakistan. They come in their thousands, men, women, children. Men in flowing beards, shaven Sikhs, turbanned Sikhs, ancient, modern in fact almost all types. One of holy places is HASAN ABDAL, a place associated with the Moghuls and later the Sikhs. A three-day Festival is attracting Sikhs from everywhere and Hasan Abdal is humming with their activity.

    NANAK, the founder, was a teacher. His mission was to unite Hindus and Muslims of the Indian sub-continent. He evolved a bew religion called Sikhism. One of the passages in the writings of ??? Guru Arjun who established their main holy book says:
    "I do not keep the Hindu fast, nor the Muslim Ramazan,
    I serve Him alone who is my refuge.

    I serve the one Master, who is also Allah.

    I have broken with the Hindu and Muslim,
    I will not worship with the Hindu, nor like the Muslim go to Mecca.

    I shall serve Him and on other.

    I will not pray to idols nor say the Muslim prayer.

    I shall put my heart at the feet of the one Supreme Being, For we are neither Hindus nor Mussalmans."
    But they are both. Their "Granth" contains several chapters written by a Muslim saint Baba Farid Shakarganj who lies buried at Pakpattan in Pakistan. Last month India's Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi headed the committee celebrating the anniversary of Baba Farid who is venerated by the Sikh community in India. The Granth, the Bible of Sikhs, is venerated by Sikhs who read it nonstop for threedays on festival occasions and take the book in procession with the Sikh faithful chanting and showering flowers on the palanquin on which their Granth (Bible) is carried.

    The Sikh community was largely organized by their fifth Guru (Master or Teacher) who established the ADI GRANTH, the holy scriptures of Sikhs, after on hundred years of the death of the founder Nanak. The fifth Guru of the Sikhs Arjun 1563-1606 clashed with the Moghul rulers and he was killed in action.

    The Sikhs became a military community after their Guru Arjun's death. Guru Tegh Bahadur also clashed with the Moghuls and lost his life.

    The Tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Gobind Singh (1666-1708) was a powerful leader and under him the Sikhs beceme a powerful military military group which, later developed into a Sikh state. The Sikhs played a very important role in the Punjab and the North West Frontier Province in the 19th century, Ranjit Singh was their famous ruler whose kingdom extended beyond Peshawar. It was during his rule that many Tribesmen of the Northwest Frontier Province became Sikhs. There are thousands of Sikhs in Afghanistan as well and many of them come to Pakistan every year for pilgrimage to Sikh Holy places mostly situated in the punjab.

    The British fought many wars with the Sikhs in India. The first Sikh war was fought in December 1845 at Ferozepur when Sir Henry Hardinge, who had been one of Wellington's officers in the Napoleonic wars, is stated to have remarked after the British victory over the Sikhs: "Another such victory and we are undone!"
    The sikh ruler Ranjit Singh had died in 1839. The Sikh Army was totally defeated by the British and Henry Lawrence exercised viceregal authority over the punjab through a regency.

    The Sikhs fought another war in 1848. Lord Dalhousie fought a terrible war at Chilianwala in January 1849 where he Sikh Army was totally destroyed, after which the punjab was annexed and administered by the British. Later on the Sikhs helped their conquerors to restore order.

    Before/August 14 when the Indian subcontinent was divided into Bharat and Pakistan there was anarchy in the Punjab. Numerous bands of well armed Sikhs roamed the country burning several villages and butchering their inhabitants. By August 17 very long processions of miserable refugees fled westward into Pakistan and Sikh refugees fled eastward into Indian Punjab and many places in north India. Trains were held up bymurderous gangs who belonged to different religions; women and children were butchered in very large numbers. Countless number of people died in the a anarchy which lasted two months after independence. The number of refugees involved is estimated at more than eight and a half million.!
    Since then, during periods of peace, the Sikhs have been visiting Pakistan for performing pilgrimage at Nankana Sahib and Hasan Abdal -- two of their foremost holy places. At Hasan Abdal this year people came mostly from the Tribal areas in Pakistan's North-West Frontier and some trickled form Afghanistan through the Durand Line in khyber Pass. The first day of the festival saw some seven thousand Sikhs, men, women and children.

    Although Sikh religion is of very recent origin, many folk legends have become a part of it. At Hasan abdal they venerate a stone on which there is a print of the palm of their founder Guru Nanak. Panja is palm in Punjabi, On a black stone is seen an oversize depression clearly resembling the plam with five fingers. Sikh pilgrims venerate it by splashing water on the palm imprint on the stone which is stated to have been there ever since Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion, did penance at Hasan Abdal. How the imprint of Guru Nanak's palm left such a deep mark on the stone is shrouded in legend and folklore and is the subject of keen controversy between the historians on either side of the India-Pakistan border. In spite of this historic controversy Sikhs in their thousands pay their homage to the Nank palm imprint every year. They take the water of the holy stream which flows beside the black stone which contains the Nanak palm imprint, in pitchers to far off places form Hasan Avdal. They drink it for salvation; apply it to their eyes. The younger section of Sikhs besides venerating, swim in the cool pool beside the holy/building whose domes resemble that of a Mosque.

    Hundreds of women consider it their holy duty to prepare chapattis and curry for the pligrims at Hasan Abdal. Huge ovens are used for making these wheat chapattis, and oversize vessels are used for cooking rice and curry.

    Many elderly Sikhs who do not cut their hair for religious reasons are seen bathing, drying their long hair in the sun, and tying their colourful turbans which is another religious requirement.

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