The spirit of pluralism, represented by Baba Nanak’s simple words, I witnessed in practice at the Dera Sahib, Pakistan
I thereafter proceeded to the sanctum sanctorum to join a sparse congregation and was ecstatic to see shabads (hymns) being sung by a group comprising of a Hindu and two Muslim youth, while a Sikh sat at the Guru Granth Sahib. Playing the tabla was Mhosin Ali, grandson of Bhai Chand, with the vocals being delivered by Sarfraz Nain Tahir, grandson of Bhai Gama. Both of them are the Muslim descendants of Bhai Mardana, the rabab player who had accompanied Guru Nanak on his travels. Witnessing the diversity of faiths coming together, it felt extremely reassuring as Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru, sacrificed his life here for this very unity.
Unfortunately, the government has restricted entry of Muslims but a few regulars have been given special permission to enter at free will. In the spirit of the people of the Punjab, this restriction needs to be lifted.
Photographed in Oct 2014, during the research for the book “LOST HERITAGE The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan”