Bihar's capital Patna, the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singhji, turned into a mini-Punjab on the occasion of the 350th Prakash Parv, the birth anniversary of the 10th Sikh Guru. The city is teeming with Sikh devotees, some of whom have travelled from foreign shores to witness the celebrations. For locals, seeing foreigners sporting turbans and 'kirpans' is even more surprising when they hear some of them converse in Punjabi. The celebrations started on December 30, and will conclude on January 5.
Baba Mohinder Singh has come from Birmingham with over 300 sevadars for the occasion. About 150 women from England are volunteering their services in the daily langars. Most of them have taken a two-week leave from work to participate in the festivities.
About 120 Sikhs from the US and Canada have come to Patna Saheb as a part of the Raj Khalsa Yatra organised by Sikh Dharma International to pay their tributes to Guru Gobind Singh. They took out a Prabhat Pheri on Monday evening.
The grand festival has given Bihar an opportunity to establish its image in the hospitality sectors at a global level. Most foreign nationals are happy with the arrangements made jointly by the Bihar government and Gurudwara management committee. Some of them are staying at the Gurudwara or at the tent cities while few have booked themselves into hotels. They said they received an even more cordial reception in Patna Saheb than in Punjab. A French woman, Barbara Stray, who is touring countries on her bicycle, learned about the Sikh festival and took a diversion to Patna from her original route to participate in it.
The grand finale celebrations of Prakash Parv that kicked off on January 3 also witnessed attendance from several dignitaries. Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, who was in the town on Monday, participated in the celebrations by paying his regards at the Takht Harimandir Sahib Gurudwara besides visiting the Bal Leela Gurudwara nearby. "I have come here to take the blessings of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. His life is an inspiration to everyone," he told the media.
Former Punjab CM, Captain Amarinder Singh, too arrived in Patna on Monday to take part in the Sikh festival. PM Narendra Modi, Former PM Manmohan Singh, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and several other Union Ministers and Chief Ministers are expected to participate in the event.
Sources said more than 7.5 lakh devotees have visited the Takht Sri Harmandir Ji Saheb Gurudwara since Christmas. This is almost equal to the number of devotees visiting the Gurudwara in a year.