Every year, my grandparents used to take us to Uncle Devraj’s house in Karachi where together we celebrated the annual full moon sighting, known as Diwali. Devraj was Hindu, and my grandfather was Muslim, but they both spoke Sindhi and shared familial roots. Theirs was not a unique story. Unlike in Punjab, where partition brought bloodshed on an unprecedented scale, the Sindh province to the south saw little or no communal violence. The Hindus of Sindh largely stayed behind. Muslim and Hindu families shared bonds that reached back generations; a sense of respect for community prevailed. My grandfather even had his own collection of Hindu icons in his study. Perhaps I’d taken the Durga from Devraj’s house thinking it would be equally at home with him.
Those memories, long forgotten, came flooding back when I decided to make a trip to the Hinglaj—a Hindu holy site located half a day’s journey from Karachi. The Hinglaj temple is located in a cave in the Hingol mountains. It is where the goddess Sati’s head (one of the forms of Durga) is said to have fallen from the sky after her body was cut into 51 pieces by Vishnu. “The Hinglaj is to us as the Ka’abah is to you,” said my local Hindu guide, Danesh Kumar, referring to the shrine in Mecca toward which all Muslims direct their daily prayers.
KARACHI: Pakistani students formed a human shield around the Holi celebrations at the Swami Narayan Temple so that Hindus could celebrate their festival with abandon.
Hindus, who make up almost 2% of Pakistan’s population of around 180 million, are the largest minority in the country. Most of them live in the country’s Sindh and Punjab provinces.
The National Student’s Federation (NSF) carried out this exercise to show their solidarity with Pakistani Hindus, to promote the protection of religious minorities, and advocate interfaith coexistence.
KARACHI: An Indian woman stuck in Pakistan since she accidentally crossed over as a child has drawn attention as a real life example of “Bajrangi Bhaijaan,” the film starring Salman Khan that has made waves in both countries. Geeta was nine when she crossed into Pakistani territory. Personnel of the Punjab Rangers took her to a social welfare organisation, the Edhi Foundation, in Lahore. She soon moved to a home in Karachi.
After spending some time at an Edhi Centre in Lahore, the girl was shifted to a Karachi shelter where Bilquis Edhi, a philanthropist known as ‘The Mother of Pakistan’, named her ‘Geeta’ and became quite attached to the girl. The shelter home’s staff have created a separate praying room for her, adorning it with colourful posters of Hindu deities.
“She is a devout Hindu and has even put up colourful posters of Hindu deities, and an earthen lamp on the table,” Human rights activist and ex-minister Ansar Burney told PTI.
“This is the Ganesh that I got for her from Nepal,” Faisal said pointing toward one of the figurines.
KARACHI: Screams of joy and laughter echoed through the Lakshmi Narayan Temple as the colours of Holi consumed those within. Muslims and Christians joined Hindus in celebrating Holi, the festival of colors.
Pakistan Hindu Seva Welfare Trust president Sanjesh Sunny Dhanja was happy to see the way the celebrations had transcended religion and had become an event for the whole community. “We made it very clear that everyone is invited, regardless of their religion, and it makes me happy to see how people responded.”
KARACHI: A night full of bhajans, sufi songs and qawwalis is what the Karachi-based Hindu NGO Pakistan Hindu Seva Welfare Trust (PHSWT) has planned for the New Year eve while carrying forward the message of peace, promoting interfaith harmony and dialogue for a peaceful coexistence.
Such functions in Pakistan would help create awareness about Hindu community and provided cooperative, constructive and positive interaction between different communities, he said. “That’s what we aim through our bhajan and qawwali night on New Year.”