KARACHI: Members of the Hindu community have started preparations for celebrating their religious festival, Diwali, which would be celebrated on October 17. September 18 marked the beginning of the nine-day Navratri celebrations, which would end with the Dasara celebration on September 27.
During the nine nights of Navratri, special prayers are arranged in the local temples, religious clerics fast, and young men and women engage in Dandiya Raas. Special prayers to worship the goddesses, Saraswati and Durga, are also arranged, while the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on Diwali.
Most Hindus in Sindh, who speak different languages like Sindhi, Marathi, Gujarati and Dhati, start celebrating Navratri 30 days before Diwali every year. “The nine nights are sanctified in the Hindu religion, during which Saraswati and Durga are worshipped,” said Narain Maharaj, a religious cleric of the Maheshwari Meghwar community of Lyari Town.
Before these celebrations, small makeshift stalls are also set up to sell items used in Pooja (worship), which include brass bells, lamps, Charnamantra pots, stands for incense sticks, statues of goddesses, betel nuts and leaves, coconuts, and rose, jasmine and lotus flowers.
“46 days before Diwali, most Hindus celebrate Saraad by offering food to birds, especially crows, and they also distribute food among the children for the consecration of their departed loved ones. After 16 days of Saraad, Navratri is celebrated for nine days, which ends with the celebration of Dasara on the tenth day. Diwali is celebrated 20 days after Dasara,” Maharaj explained.
Answering a question, Maharaj said that the Hindus living in Sindh celebrate these festivals in their own style, while the same festivals are celebrated differently in India.