Attari (Amritsar): For the first time after Independence, the 'Nagar Kirtan', which was taken out from Nankana Sahib district of Pakistan's Punjab province, arrived at Attari in Amritsar on Thursday to mark the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of the Sikhism founder, Guru Nanak Dev.

The 'Nagar Kirtan' (religious procession), carrying the holy Guru Granth Sahib, crossed over to India from Pakistan in the afternoon.

Around 500 Sikh devotees, who were part of the procession, reached here through the land transit route of the Attari border.

Several ministers of the Punjab Government, along with senior officials of the Amritsar district administration, received the Nagar Kirtan at the border. The top leadership of the opposition Shriomani Akali Dal was also present.

A large number of devotees from the Indian side stormed the roads when the 'Nagar Kirtan' arrived in a decorated palanquin.

An official of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), an apex religious body of the Sikhs, said a large cavalcade followed the religious procession from Gurdwara Nankana Sahib to Wagah border amid a thick security cover. The SGPC was involved in organising the event with the support from both Indian and Pakistani authorities.

Gurdwara Nankana Sahib is the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev, which falls in Pakistan.

The Pakistani authorities had provided a special permission to the Sikh community to take out 'Nagar Kirtan', which will culminate at Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district of Punjab after passing through various cities and towns.

The Nagar Kirtan will halt at Golden Temple, Amrisar, tonight before it begins its onward journey.

Prominent among those who were with the 'Nagar Kirtan' from Pakistan include Jathedar Akal Takhat Gyani Harpreet Singh, head priest Golden Temple Gyani Jagtar Singh, priest Golden Temple Gyani Maan Singh, president SGPC Gobind Singh Longowal and president Delhi Gurdwra Management Committee Manjinder Singh Sirsa.

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, his wife and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal were present at the Attari border to receive the procession.

Punjab Cabinet ministers O P Soni, Sukhjinder Randhawa and local Congress MLAs were also present.

Around 500 kg of flowers were arranged by the SGPC to shower on the 'Nagar Kirtan' on the way from Attari to Golden Temple, besides a special 'langar' (community kitchen) arrangement has been made for the devotees who will move with the religious procession.

A special red carpet was also laid by the SGPC at Joint Check Post at the Attari border to accord a welcome to the 'Nagar Kirtan'.

On July 30, nearly 500 Sikh devotees had crossed over to Pakistan to bring the 'Nagar Kirtan' to India.