By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
“Along the way people turned out to offer us tea, and I knew it was home made because they were still holding the kettles” says Yatri Akshay Yadav. Punjab continued to shower the Yatris with generosity as large numbers turned out on the morning walk from Sirhind to the morning break at Khalsa Ground, Mandi Gobindgarh.
Prior to the beginning of the walk, however, there were three events that delayed the start from its usual 6AM to closer to 8:30am. These were the visit of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi to pay homage at the Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib, Sirhind and Hazrat Seyfeddin Farooqi, Rauza Sharif. This was followed by a flag handover ceremony, after which the walk began in earnest.
And this was the period that Yadav refers to when he speaks of the Punjab public turning out to cheer on the Yatris. The temperature remained, as usual, freezing and hence the tea came as a welcome relief.
While for most of the #BharatJodoYatra the Yatris have walked in disparate bunches, as is natural in a journey of this nature, greater emphasis is now being paid to walking in formation, all together. What did it feel like? Says Yatri Prerna Gaur, “All of us walking together felt and looked great.”
Waiting for them along the road were families such as tea shop owner Manohar Singh, his son Manpreet Singh and daughter Jaspreet Kaur. They were there, says Manohar “To participate in the celebrations and also see Rahul Gandhi.”
Ranjana Devi on the other hand has been waiting for the Yatra for “two or three hours” because she and her friends “wanted to see the Yatra.”
In the morning session Congress MP Rahul Gandhi walked with ex-MP Dharamvir Gandhi. Later in the afternoon Gandhi had an interaction with with senior Ex-Servicemen.
This was followed by an interaction with a panel of eminent Punjabi historians, economists, sociologists and agri experts.
In the afternoon leg of the journey the Yatris were accompanied by a diverse group of individuals including actress Jonita Doda, a group of bar association presidents, Commission agents and labourers.
“It was a completely different experience” summarises Yatri Amit Kumar Tunna, “The crowds in Punjab, their excitement and attitude are incredible.”
We leave you with the image of Mani and his friends, originally from Uttar Pradesh but in Punjab with their working parents, and whom we met along the way. They were having the time of their lives shouting Bharat Jodo slogans. Why were they there? “Because it’s fun” Mani said. He’s right. The #BharatJodoYatra has been a lot of things – idealistic, political, struggle – but it has also been a lot of fun for those who travel it and those who watch it passing by.
Currently in Punjab, the Bharat Jodo Yatra is a five month, 3500 kilometre long Padyatra from Kanyakumari in the South of India to Kashmir up in the North. It is part of the party’s national mass outreach program aimed at highlighting social polarisation, economic inequalities and political centralisation.
Ground research: Aparna Ashwarya (INC Communications Department research team)
1. District name: Fatehpur Sahib
2. Mandi Gobindgarh, a town in Fatehgarh district is known as the “Steel City of Punjab”.
3. The district is considered one of the most historic districts by the Sikh community of India and is named after the youngest son of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Sahib Fateh Singh Ji.
4. The Fatehgarh Gurudwara, one of the important pilgrimage sites of the Sikh community, was constructed in the holy memory of the sacrifice and martyrdom of Sahib Fateh Singh Ji along with his brother Sahib Zoraver Singh.
5. The district is also the birthplace of an eminent scholar, poet, and Singh Sabha reformer Gianni Ditt Singh.
6. Khamano block of the district has one of the most ancient Harappan sites, Sanghol. The site is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
7. The regions of the district are mentioned in the canonical Vedic literature as well as other ancient Sanskrit books such as Brihat Samhita.
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