NEW - Vedic/Hindu Calendar for 2013

NEW - Vedic/Hindu Calendar for 2013
Shri Ramapir Mandir/Temple in Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Is Holi-colours for all ?

Sunday,Feb 28,2010
Sushi's Musings
Sushmita Dutta
Lots of colour, water, fun, joy and, of course, ‘gujiya’ comes to our minds when we think of Holi. Well, after shifting base to the capital of India, I realised that be it Holi, Diwali, Eid, Christmas or Lohri, the spirit of the people remains the same, the enthusiasm of Indians for celebrating any festival, irrespective of the community to which they belong to, seems to equally vibrant across the length and breadth of the country.

Every year, I and my friends, eagerly await the festival of colours- it is absolute ecstasy to get drenched in colourful water and throw colours at each other! At my workplace, I have a Muslim colleague who doesn’t mind visiting temples and celebrates every festival without any second-thought and with an open heart, including Holi. I mention him here because while I was chatting with one of my other Muslim friends, I got chocked with emotions after hearing of an incident.

She told me that a few Pakistani Hindus who have made the capital their home, will celebrate a quiet Holi this time and not play with colours. Many Hindus, from the Sindh province in Pakistan, have christened themselves with Muslim names and live a life of seclusion. It is not that Hindus are harassed by the majority Muslim community there but they prefer maintaining a low profile due to the fear of any eventuality due to a display of their faith.

While they celebrated Diwali, one of the Hindu families was harassed by the local police. That incident has taken away the spirit of celebration from the hearts of Hindus. So Holi is sans any colours and gujiya.

After knowing about such people and incidents, I feel so helpless. Here I will spend the whole day playing with colours and water and some will be deprived of even small mercies like throwing gulal in the wind and see it fly around, spreading the warmth that the festival signifies.

By describing all this, I do not intend to fuel any tension between the Hindu and Muslim community. In fact, whenever I look at my Muslim colleague I can see how much love and affection Muslims have and how the ‘Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb’ has enriched our culture for ages.

The traditions of India are very rich, indeed, and both Hindus and Muslims have an equal role in that. I remember reading a story in which Akbar, the Great, wanted to know whether the people in his kingdom are happy or not. So he disguised himself and went to markets to gauge their mood.

The Badshah was utterly disappointed and sad with what he saw. He learnt that the Hindus, during his reign, had to give a ‘teerth yatra mehsool’ (tax to visit a pilgrimage) which made them extremely dejected with Akbar. He was shocked to know that one had to pay taxes to get a glimpse of their God and decided to abolish this tax and allowed free celebration of all festivals and faiths.

If hundreds of years ago, a Badshah could understand the need for unity of Hindus & Muslims, why is it so difficult for the people of globalisation’s era to figure this out? Why do we still feel the heat of Hindu-Muslim differences? Simple colours can not change caste or religion; they can only enhance the joy of togetherness. We must understand the fact that it is only a bunch of naysayers and haters of life indeed who try to break harmony, peace and love of people, to serve their own selfish ends. But evil shall never win.

So, this Holi, I will make sure that I spread love, happiness, colour and peace. I know that I cannot help those residing across-border, but I can definitely involve all those who really want to shed enmity. It would be an achievement if I can make even a single person laugh and see the colourful side of life, the lighter side of life.

Hatred and enmity can only be won with colours of love.

The blue, red, yellow, orange or violets will not lose their charm if they fall on a Hindu or a Muslim- then why not we all share in the fun? It will only brighten the spirit of the festival and make our souls more radiant.

Festival of colours called Holi

Sunday,Feb 28,2010

Holi – also called the Festival of colours – is a public holiday, marking the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It is particularly popular in northern India and other parts of the world with large Hindu populations.
Men daubed in colours celebrate the re-enactment of a local tradition of “Lathmar Holi”, also known as the festival of colours, celebrated at Nandgaon village near the northern Indian city of Mathura.–Reuters Photo

Happy Holi 28th Feb Pakistan Hindu Council Board Meeting

From Sanjesh Kumar (PHP)
Karachi 28 Feb,2010

Dear Gopi Bhai,
Wish you & ur all friends & family a very Happy Holi from Shri Ramdev Shiv Santosh Mandli & people here from Pakistan.
Today i went to Pakistan Hindu Council General Boardy Meeting it was all good in that meeting they have discussed all the activities about the Pakistan Hindu Council & they discussed about the previous work they have done.
The Venue was at Beach Luxuary Hotel
Timing start 12:00 pm
Date: 28th Feb 2010
Lunch at 2:00 pm

In this meeting i distributed Maha Shivratri Book to all the members of PHC they appriciated my work. That time i don't have any camera with me i asked one of my friend he gave me.

Introduction to Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC)

Pakistan Hindu Council
a social and non-political organization of Pakistani Hindus

Pakistan Hindu Council is a Representative Body of Hindus residing  in Pakistan. The far basic aim of the council is to develop    unity among the scared community scattered in the nook and corner of  the country and establish relations between all the factions of the community specifically the low income group of the society habited in the urban and rural areas of all the four Provinces, mainly in Sindh.

Brief Sketch
Formed in November, 2005

Registered Office:
314, Namco Centre, Campbell Street,
Off. M. A. Jinnah Road, KARACHI
Under Shifting to:
Inside Swami Narain Temple,
Opp. KMC Head Office,
M. A. Jinnah Road,
Phone: 0092 21 2632029
Fax:     0092 21 2632065

Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
0092 333 2277370

Raja Assermal Manglani 
0092 300 8207246 –0092 321 8204246

General Secretary:
Hari Motwani
0092 300 82 85 794

News & Events from Pakistan Hindu Council

41 Hindu couples tie knot in Pakistan

 Pakistan Hindu Council has organised a mass wedding, where more than 40 Hindu couples have got married in traditional way.
Council patron Ramesh Kumar told The News: "This is second mass wedding that we have organised. Last year, 20 coupleswere married at the Swami Narayan Temple. This year, we were told not to have more than 44 couples."

The 41 couples were married for free at the flower decorated venue.

The brides were dressed in red saris and the grooms wore golden sherwanis. Some of the grooms carried traditional swords. Each couple was allowed 10 guests.

Mukesh Kumar, a groom, said: "I had decided a long time ago that I would get married at a blessed mahurat (auspicious time), which comes only once a year."

His nervous bride, 19-year-old Rakhi, said that the mass wedding was a good way to dispense with all unnecessary and irrelevant expenditures that burden a family.

"I am grateful and thankful to the council for helping us celebrate the biggest moment of our lives," she said.

Former chief justice of Pakistan, Rana Bhagwandas was present on the occasion.

Mangla Sharma, coordinator of the women's wing of the council, said the cost for each couple's wedding was approximately Rs.70,000.

Sharma said: "We paid for everything, including the dowry, which consists of bedroom sets, bridal dresses, and other appliances and utensils. Similarly, the couple did not have to spend a single rupee on food or decorations. We are happy that all the money was collected by the Hindu community and other individuals, and no financial support or help was sought from the government."

Pakistan Hindu Council says Hindus feeling insecure
The Pakistan Hindu Council today said Hindus living in Sindh province are feeling insecure due to rising cases of kidnapping and murder of the people from their community.

It appealed to President of Pakistan to take notice and direct authorities to provide protection and take measures to recover kidnapped Hindus from Sakrand, Kashmore and Jacobabad.

"More recently a Hindu businessman, Ashok Kumar Kohistani, has been kidnapped from Sakrand. Police is not registering the case as yet and have not been able to arrest the outlaws. The victim's family does not have enough money to pay the ransom," Visharam Tharwani, general secretary of the council, said in a statement.

1.Cremation Bus: Pakistan Hindu Council purchased a cremation Bus for cremation of dead Bodies. This service is provided to all Hindu Communities living in Karachi at a very nominal cost. This is a unique service started by PHC after partition. The bus is stationed at Centre of city, Swami Narayan Temple Estate Trust, Karachi.

2.Remedy of Forcible conversion: A constitutional write petition has been failed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan for the remedy of forcible conversion of innocent girls & boys of Hindu Community. This step would protect the innocent from changing religion without one’s willingness.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Consultations being held for Hindu marriage law in Pakistan

By Khawar Ghumman
Saturday, 27 Feb, 2010
 “We have already held three meetings with representatives of these minorities and hopefully the bill would be presented before the National Assembly within the next three months,” said Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti.

ISLAMABAD: More than two million Hindus living in Pakistan are following their customary laws in contracting marriages without any registration and legal recourse for either partner in case of problems.

Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti informed the National Assembly on Friday that the government was yet to promulgate the Hindu Marriage Act because the Hindu community was still following centuries-old traditions while solemnising marriages.

In response to a question raised by Ms Parveen Massod Bhatti, he said that marriages of Hindus were not registered. However, he said, the ministry had initiated a consultation process to come up with a legislation.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Bhatti said the government was working on a Minority Protection Bill for different minorities across the country. The Hindu, Sikh and Bahai communities, he said, had been demanding separate marriage law and the matter would be addressed in the forthcoming bill.

“We have already held three meetings with representatives of these minorities and hopefully the bill would be presented before the National Assembly within the next three months,” the minister said.

Pakistan's religious minorities report violence

A girl peers out from a window in a Hindu neighborhood in Lyari, in Karachi. Hindu families in the area are warning their daughters to stay indoors - AP/Greg Baker 
KARACHI: Fauzia Abrar had finally gotten her crying baby to sleep when screaming men pounded on the steel doors of her home in the mostly Christian slum in the port city of Karachi.

Suddenly she heard shots, and the screaming grew louder: ‘Long live Taliban! Death to infidels!’
The men forced their way into her house, hurled loose tiles and a glass at her and fired a shot. She fainted.

As the Taliban gains a stronger foothold in Pakistan, increasingly violent assaults against religious minorities are further evidence of its growing power and influence. While the Taliban does not carry out all of the attacks, extremist elements inspired by the group will sometimes act in its name.

These attacks add to the instability of an already highly unstable country and also show how Pakistan, supposed to be a US ally in the fight against Islamic extremism, is now itself increasingly threatened by extremists.

In dozens of interviews from Karachi to Peshawar, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus told of attacks and threats and expressed an overwhelming sense of fear. Minority Rights Group International, a watchdog organization, ranked Pakistan last year as the world’s top country for major increases in threats to minorities from 2007 — along with Sri Lanka, which is embroiled in civil war. The group lists Pakistan as seventh on the list of 10 most dangerous countries for minorities, after Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar and Congo.

‘In Pakistan today there is a lot of feeling of fear by all the minorities,’ said the Rev. Richard D’Souza of St. Jude Church in Karachi. ‘We feel we have no protection.’

The trouble in D’Souza’s parish started with bold blue graffiti on the church walls praising the Taliban and Islamic law, and condemning Christians as infidels. Young Christians in the neighborhood protested.

Within days, about 25 burly men with shaggy beards rampaged through the neighborhood, beating Christians, pelting women with stones and setting fire to the doors of houses and to meager possessions. An 11-year-old boy was killed, and several people were wounded.

‘The police never helped. None of us had weapons. The police just stood there,’ said 26-year-old Imran Masih, who spent 10 days in the hospital after a bullet pierced his neck.

Dozens of Christian families fled. One man who stayed, Sohail Masih, showed what is left of the family’s two Bibles and a Sunday school book — a seared and crumbled mass of paper. He had wrapped it in plastic bags and hidden it, in case evidence was ever needed.

D’Souza said the parish is thinking of forming its own armed youth brigades to patrol Christian areas. When he asked the government for armored personnel carriers, he said, two bored-looking policemen showed up for the Easter Sunday service and were gone the next morning.

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for minorities affairs, said the government is trying to stop the Taliban through military operations.

‘I don’t say minorities are not worried. They have a genuine concern. They have been attacked,’ said Bhatti, a Christian. ‘The Taliban say non-Muslims are infidels, and the people who are misguided zealots can interpret this in any way. Minorities can be easy and soft targets of these extremists, but these Taliban are committing such violent acts that everyone feels fear in their presence — the minority and the majority in Pakistan.’

Religious minorities represent about five per cent of Pakistan’s 160 million people, according to the CIA World Factbook. But Michael Javed, director of a peace council and a minister in southern Sindh, charged that census takers intentionally keep minority figures low to deny them greater representation. Christians alone represent five to six per cent of the population, he said.

Javed said he has been told by militants to take the cross off his schools in Karachi, and has refused. Frightened Christians are trying to arm themselves, he said, pulling out a bulging file with more than 60 applications to buy weapons.

‘It has never happened in the past like this. Today we feel we have no future. They want us to hide, but we won’t,’ he said.

Even Shia Muslims have come under attack as the Sunni Taliban tears through the tribal areas. In the past two years, the Taliban has embraced a violently anti-Shiite group, Lashkar-e-Janghvi, unleashing a fresh wave of bitter bloodletting. More than 500 Shia Muslims in the Kurram tribal agency have been killed in daily attacks.

Editorials in local newspapers have warned of the threat to minorities and predicted that the brutality will eventually reach the larger population. In an April letter to the prime minister and president, Lahore Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha said allowing Islamic law in the violent Swat Valley would give license to ‘trigger-happy Taliban (and further) erode constitutional protections for minorities and women.’

The Taliban issued an ultimatum in March to the elders of more than 25 Sikh families in the Orakzai tribal agency near the Afghan border: Convert to Islam, join the jihad or pay five billion rupees — roughly $62 million — for protection.

‘We couldn’t pay that amount. We were farmers,’ said a young Sikh who asked to be identified only as Singh, because he was too terrified to give his full name or location. He fidgeted nervously, and his voice became little more than a whisper as he recalled the Taliban’s threat to take a Sikh leader to South Waziristan to decide his fate if the extortion money wasn’t paid.

The villagers persuaded the Taliban to reduce the amount to 12 million rupees or $150,000 — still a princely sum for the Sikh community. But Singh said they raised enough money to get their elder released, with a promise to pay the rest by March 29.

On March 28, he said, the Sikhs paid the full amount, and the Taliban promised to protect them anywhere in Pakistan. But by 10 p.m. that day, the Taliban had told Sikh elders they were preparing to attack.

By two a.m., the elders had packed everyone into cars and trucks, and more than 150 Sikhs fled to Peshawar, the provincial capital of the northwest.

‘What are we to do? We have nothing,’ Singh said. ‘We have asked the government of Pakistan, either relocate us to somewhere safe or send us to India.’

The lives of Hindus are also in danger, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Last month, extremists attacked a Hindu Holi religious festival not far from the border with India, setting fire to a Hindu temple and destroying several shops.

And last year, a young Hindu worker was beaten to death at a factory in Karachi by fellow workers who accused him of insulting Islam.

Although no figures are available, anecdotal evidence and human rights groups say attacks against Hindus have risen in the last two years, with temples and worshippers targeted especially in Sindh province, where Karachi is located.

‘We are under more and more of a threat because of these extremists, but we ourselves feel if we take the wrong step, even to tell of the wrong things, then it will be death for us,’ said Amarnath Motumal, a lawyer and head of the Karachi Hindu Panchayat, representing Hindus. ‘We worry about the future of our families and our children here in Pakistan — all of us (minorities) do today because of these extremists.’— AP

2 Hindus to miss Holi in Karachi , Pakistan

Saturday, February 27, 2010

KARACHI: Two Hindus carrying liquor in lieu of the upcoming Holi celebrations were caught from the Landhi Railway station, when they were going to a village near Jhimpir, district Thatta. They would not be able to celebrate their religious festival with their families as the date for giving judgement on their bail application has been fixed for Monday by a magistrate, while Holi would be celebrated on Sunday. Jai Kumar and Qeemat Rai, who were arrested by the Railway Police on February 20, filed a bail application before the Judicial Magistrate Malir, Naveed Ahmad Kalhoro through their counsel Rashid Hussain Memon. staff report

Happy Holi today and Wish Hindus worldwide !!!

By Pakistan Hindu Post (PHP)

In Sindh, the main function will be held at Sawami Narayan Mandir situated on MA Jinnah Road in Karachi and at the Lohano Community Hall in district Sangher.

In Lahore, the Hindus will gather at the Krishna Mandir on Ravi Road to celebrate the day.

The history: The celebration of Holi is very ancient in its origin. By its very origin, Holi celebrates an ultimate triumph of the ‘good’ over the ‘evil’. Many colours associated with Holi are said to be the face of celebrations.

There are two different stories behind the Holi festival.

The word ‘Holi’ means ‘burning’ in the Indian language. The reference was found only in ancient Indian legend of Hiranyakashipu, to whom the celebration of Holi is attributed.

Years back in the pre-Christian era, there lived a demon king named Hiranyakashipu in ancient India. He wanted to avenge the death of his younger brother. His brother, also a demon, had been killed by Lord Vishnu, one of the supreme trios, monitoring the life and death in the universe. To take on Vishnu, the tyrant king wanted to become the king of the heaven, earth and the underworld.

He performed severe penance and prayers for many years to gain enough power. Finally, he was granted a boon. Powered by the boon, Hiranyakshipu thought he had become invincible. Arrogant, he ordered all in his kingdom to worship him, instead of god. The demon king, however, had a very young son, Prahalad. He was an ardent devotee of Vishnu. Despite his father’s order, Prahalad continued to pray to Vishnu.

So the demon king decided to kill his son. He asked the favour of his sister Holika who, because of a boon, was immune to fire. They planned that Prahalad would be burnt to death. A pyre was lit up and Holika sat on it, clutching Prahalad. Yet, at the end Prahalad emerged unscathed by the fire, and Holika, the demon, was burnt to ashes.

The earnest devotion and complete submission to Lord Vishnu saved the young Prahlad. Thus was the triumph of Prahlad, the representative of good spirits, and the defeat of Holika. Later, even the demon king Hiranyakashipu was killed by Lord Vishnu.

The second story behind the Holi festival is of Krishna who was a reincarnation of Vishnu himself. It was Krishna, or, Krishan, the king of the ancient city of Dwarka, who popularised the tradition of Holi. The origin of the colourful and frolicking tone of Holi lied in the boyhood of Krishna. It all came up as part of his pranks; he used to play with his mates of Gokul and Vrindavan situated in north India.

Krishna would play pranks by drenching the village girls called gopi’s with water and colours. At first it offended the girls, but they were so fond of this mischievous boy that soon their anger melted away. And, it did not take long for other boys to join in, making it a popular sport in the village.

Later, as Krishna grew up, the play assumed a new dimension. It added more colours to Krishna’s legendary love life. The legend of Krishna’s courtship with Radha and playing pranks with the gopis. The girls in the Gokul village were mostly milkmaids, and, hence locally known as gopis.

The same tradition had emerged through the ages, turning it into a community festival of the masses.

The Holi play of Krishna was documented in hundreds of ancient paintings, murals, sculptures and scriptures found across the subcontinent. 

In 2009 during Holi Celebrations 6 Hindus died ,KARACHI , PAKISTAN


Spurious liquor claims six lives
By Faraz Khan

KARACHI: Spurious liquor claimed 6 lives on Friday as Holi celebrations took a nasty turn, with doctors expressing concern that the number of casualties could go up.

The victims namely Sumar, 50, son of Buda, Sabu Lal, 40, son of Mohan Lal, Kishan Kumar, 50, son of Mati Lal, Younus Masih, William Masih and Taj Mohammad, all residents of Baghdadi Area, Lyari were rushed to the Civil Hospital, Karachi but passed away during treatment.

“All these men died as a result of consuming Tharra,” Medico Lego Officer (MLO) Aftab Chunnar told Daily Times, while adding, “Others are still under treatment and their condition is critical.”

The shady business of home-distilled liquor that often proved to be toxic had gone down in the wake of a government crackdown after the September 2007 tragedy, when 50 people died after consuming poisonous liquor.

Lyari Town is already notorious for its drug peddlers, however, in this case police believes that the victims bought the liquor from elsewhere. Lyari Town SP Rana Pervez Mehmood said, “The victims were friends and were drinking to celebrate Holi.”

He added that the statements of the victims are a must to probe the incident but the investigators are facing problems, as the most of the victims are already dead, while others are unconscious.

Meanwhile, sources claim that more people have fallen victim to the toxic liquor but their families took their bodies away from the hospital without any legal formalities. Confirming this information, MLO Chunnar said that people are not coming to the hospital, as they fear arrest and the number would be higher if more cases came forward.

Picture of 2007 Holi festival celebrated in Karachi City , Pakistan

Karachi, PAKISTAN: Pakistani Hindu women celebrate the colourful Holi festival in Karachi, 03 March 2007. Holi, the festival of colours, is observed by Hindus across the country and signals the onset of the spring season.

Picture of 2007 Holi festival celebrated in Lahore , Pakistan

Pakistani Hindus spray colors onto each another to celebrate Holi festival, Saturday, March 3, 2007 in Lahore, Pakistan. Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, also heralds the coming of spring.

Picture of 2004 Holi festival celebrated in Lahore , Pakistan


In Lahore, Holi was celebrated at Karishna Mandir on Ravi Road. The religious festivity at Krishna Mandir started with Puja Paat followed by the traditional Holi, an extravaganza of colours. The festivities included the lighting of small fires. Then the participants painted each other with colours followed by the distribution of Parsad. They concluded the ceremony with prayers.

Why Ban the ban on Basant , PAKISTAN

By Irfan Husain
Saturday, 27 Feb, 2010
 When we ban the shared enjoyment of traditional festivals like Basant, we are only strengthening the extremists who have come to shape our national agenda. —File Photo 

ONE would have thought that with all the political turmoil and full-blown Islamist insurgency Pakistan is passing through, our courts and state officials would have more to occupy them than to ban Basant.

But yet again, this centuries-old kite-flying festival has become the focus of controversy. In 2005, the Supreme Court in its wisdom decided to ban the spring celebrations, but until last year, people got around this edict by applying for a brief suspension. This year, the Lahore High Court has joined the act by refusing to permit any temporary relief from the original ban.

The official reason given for this judgment is that kids cut themselves on the sharp, ground-glass-coated string, and some people get killed by falling off roofs. So instead of directing that the city administration regulate the festival to make it safer, the Supreme Court slapped a blanket ban on the event.

However, Sajjad Bhutta has recently come out with a novel reason for the restrictions. According to this senior Lahore district official, Basant was also the occasion for ‘drinking and dance parties’. And since his goons could not break into every home where these activities were going on, a complete ban was essential.

This attitude is in tune with the annual chorus from the mullahs who denounce the festival as having Hindu origins, and thus somehow un-Islamic. Basant is a festival that heralds the coming of spring, a season of rebirth and renewal in all cultures. Different societies celebrate the end of winter in different ways, but they are all joyous occasions, and normally have no religious connotations.

In Iran, nouroz, the Persian new year, is marked with joyous celebrations, despite the efforts of the ayatollahs to put a damper on the festivities. Sensibly, the Iranian clergy realised the futility of trying to kill off an ancient tradition deeply rooted in Iranian culture and history.

Our clerics, more influenced by Afghanistan’s Taliban, have been doing their best to prevent people from having fun. Innocent pleasures are denounced from the pulpit, and people are forced into enjoying the simplest forms of pleasures behind closed doors.

Over the years, this ‘Deobandi-Wahabi-Salafi axis’, to borrow Pervez Hoodbhoy’s term, has been pushing us further and further away from normalcy. Intolerance and hypocrisy are now the norm, and extremist thugs have a tight grip on university campuses to make sure nobody has any fun.

Those denouncing Basant as a Hindu festival would be surprised to learn that many of the marriage rituals that have become central to Pakistani weddings have their roots in Hindu society. The singing and dancing that takes place on the occasion of mehndi, for instance, would not be out of place in Delhi and Mumbai. And if one is going to be literal about the scriptures, there is nothing Islamic about the dowry a bride is expected to bring with her.

Our judges, officials and mullahs need to realise that there is more to life than long lists of do’s and don’ts. The Taliban in Afghanistan based their entire rule on what people were and were not allowed to do. When their Pakistani cousins grabbed territory in Swat and elsewhere, the first thing they did was to shut down video shops and slap a ban on music. And of course, education for girls was strictly forbidden.

When we talk of eradicating extremism, we forget that it cannot be done simply by shooting a few terrorists. A change in mindset is needed. When Zia imposed so-called Islamic laws on Pakistan, he set into motion a chain of events that has culminated in the chaos we see around us.

If we are serious about winning our country back from the zealots who have seized control, we need to starve them of oxygen. This takes the form of our school curriculum that teaches intolerance; the large section of our media that stifles rational discussion; and our public discourse that makes a virtue of hypocrisy.

When we ban the shared enjoyment of traditional festivals like Basant, we are only strengthening the extremists who have come to shape our national agenda. Each time they gain one concession, they immediately demand another. We had long ago ceded New Year celebrations to the extremist thugs who went around smashing up hotels and clubs on Dec 31 if there were any signs of festivities. Is Basant going to follow the same path?

I do not always see eye to eye with my old friend, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, but when he declared he would go ahead and celebrate Basant, and forget the consequences, my spirits lifted at his defiance. Almost immediately, Senator Pervez Rashid of the PML-N threatened to have Salman dragged out of the Governor’s House in handcuffs if he defied the ban. This, alas, is the level of persons who fill our assemblies.

For far too long, we have accepted the edicts of our moral police without raising an outcry. One by one, simple pleasures have been legislated away.

Bhutto started the trend by banning certain forms of entertainment in 1977. He admitted his mistake in his last days in a condemned cell when he wrote a moving document called If I Am Assassinated. Zia built on these changes, introducing flogging and public hanging during his murderous rule.

Critics of these injunctions are silenced by branding them as somehow anti-Islam. And yet, there is nothing in religion that bans music. Indeed, dance, music and the visual arts have often flourished in Muslim courts. From Andalusia to Delhi, Muslim rulers encouraged and rewarded artists and performers.

Somehow, our growing army of clerics have convinced themselves that Pakistan is more Islamic than the rest of the Muslim world. As we pride ourselves on our piety, we would do well to heed this voice from an Iranian blogger writing in 2003:

“Twenty-five years of religious rule has had one long-term benefit … for generations to come no Iranian will ever want to mix matters of state with religion…. And if only those ... in our neighbouring countries knew about our failed experiment with an Islamic government they would come to their senses too … It’s a joke they want to do now what we miserably failed at 25 years ago… But it is finished … and when these mullahs are dethroned … it will be like the Berlin Wall coming down… a little patience … our dawn is near.”

Seven years after this was posted on the Internet, Iranians are still struggling for their freedom. But at least they are fighting against the forces of darkness.

A Hindu temple full of surprises (BBC News)

Saturday, 27 February 2010
 An icon of a Hindu deity is paraded through streets and throngs of people

For millions of Indian Hindus, the temple is a place of worship and reverence. But as Krupa Padhy discovered during a visit to one of the country's famous temples in the state of Orissa, it can feel like stepping into a circus.

It is dusk as I approach the temple. A tired sun sinking behind the temple dome ought to mean a serene moment. But far from it.

I am walking up Grand Road in Puri - and grand it certainly is, but busy too.

Vegetable vendors, herdsmen, rickshaw drivers and food stallholders are all crammed in against a backdrop of brightly painted 18th Century houses piled on top of one another like blocks of Lego.

And just to add a bit of extra colour, they are plastered with posters of the latest Bollywood movie.

After all, even the most devout residents need a bit of time out.

I am told the Grand Road is one of the widest in India.

And it has to accommodate the two million worshippers who gather here in June for the annual Rath Yatra, or chariot festival.

Monkeys everywhere

On this day, statuettes of the three main deities are removed from their jewelled platform inside the temple and paraded along Grand Road. They call it their annual holiday.

I am led into the temple grounds by Rudr Narayan Kuntya, a chatty and knowledgeable chap who is dressed in the purest of white robes.

Inside, the first thing I notice is there are monkeys everywhere.

They are cavorting among the ancient temple structures, dancing on the domes, scouring the ground for food and hopping on the temple steps.

We move on to the temple kitchen. Here, if a dog enters the room, all food being prepared there must be thrown away.

As we leave the kitchen quarters, I notice a monkey squeezing itself through one of the grilles on the windows.
Dogs may be banned but monkeys have unlimited entry.

"They protect the deity," Rudr tells me.


I am told some of the astonishing kitchen statistics: 200 people prepare the food. There are 400 cooks and more than 10,000 diners every day. This really must be the world's largest kitchen.

Monkeys are not the only permanent residents of the Jagannath Temple in Puri - there are saddhus, or holy men, who are devoted to the study of the Hindu Vedas or sacred texts.

They perch on white balconies in their yogic poses and warn me against the likes of my guide Rudr. And as he takes me to what is known as the donation counter, I learn that his intentions may not all be holy.

His commission, it turns out, depends on the amount I donate and naturally he is hoping I will be rather generous. He leaves the counter a somewhat disappointed man.

Suddenly I find myself at the front of the crowd. I am sandwiched next to a group of elderly women, their heads draped in white saris.
Hindu festivals often draw hundreds of thousands of people

As the curtains open to reveal the silver and gold statuettes, more people pour in eager to catch a glimpse.

The women erupt into a piercing round of yodelling.

This, they reckon, helps to ward off evil. The worshippers throw their hands into the air and chant the name of Jagannath, a word which translates as lord of the universe.

As we finish our prayers we join a crowd of hundreds of worshippers who are sitting on the ground staring at the temple dome.

It is flag-changing time. Like Spiderman, a priest dressed in an orange toga climbs 65 metres up the outside of the temple tower while facing the crowd.

The crowd bursts out into another wave of yodelling and religious chanting.

It is quite a show - a circus performance at the temple, a two-in-one bonus.

And clearly, the entertainment is hugely appreciated by those who have travelled great distances to be here.

Body is a temple

Leaving the temple grounds I spot a group of non-Indian Hindus who are praying with their heads down at the gates.
Worshippers petition Hindu deities to end their suffering

They tell me they are part of a Hare Ram Hare Krishna group from Russia.

I ask them how they feel about not being allowed to enter the temple grounds, after having travelled so far.

"We accept it," says one. "Getting this close is enough for us. Who are we to dispute the will of Krishna?"

The Hindu scriptures say you cannot convert to Hinduism.

The religion you are born into is the only one that will eventually take you to a better place. But another rule of Hinduism is that your soul is your god and your body is your temple.

Maybe this is why the Russians I met are so accepting of the temple's entrance policy.

And if my body really is my temple, then it certainly takes a knocking as I travel later in a cycle rickshaw.

An impatient lorry driver causes my rickshaw to swerve sharply. I am promptly tossed into the air and land by a vegetable stall.

Local people rush over to make sure all is well as the lorry driver makes a quick getaway.

I am all right.

The rickshaw driver is soon back at work on the Grand Road. And anyway, I have just been to the temple, so all is forgiven.

Basanta Utsav celebration in Nepal

27 Sat,Feb,2010
Tomorrow, February 28, will be Basanta Utsav. Celebrate the arrival of spring and the renewal of all that is beautiful and life-sustaining in this world.

Nepalese celebrate 'cursing festival'

Saturday, 27 Feb, 2010
 The youngsters in the neighbouring villages of Parsawa and Laxmipur hurl insults at each other, their neighbours, villagers and passers-by — and then laugh. –Photo by AP
KATHMANDU: Each year, Nepalese youth in two villages in the south of the Himalayan country save up their choicest insults for a 10-day “cursing festival” that reaches its climax Sunday.

The youngsters in the neighbouring villages of Parsawa and Laxmipur hurl insults at each other, their neighbours, villagers and passers-by — and then laugh, reports AFP.

They gather in parks and other areas around straw heaped in the shape of a phallus to launch into the insults.

Insults like, “Monkey face, I hope your sons are as ugly as frogs,” and “I hope your buffaloes die of diarrhea,” ring out along with more obscene curses.

Village elders say the annual festival, which is just for youngsters, has been going on for as long as they can remember.

“I know of this tradition from long ago and took part during my youth,”78-year-old Ram Kumar Mishra told AFP by telephone from the region.

“The best thing about this tradition is after the festival is over, everyone feels good about each other. There are no bad feelings,” Mishra, who lives in Parsawa, said.

On the last day of the festival — this year on Sunday — they set the heaps of straw ablaze and celebrate the Hindu festival Holi, which is marked by raucous fights using powdered coloured paints and water.

“We don't get to curse at any other time. But during the festival we're allowed to — even in front of our parents and we all have a jolly good time,”16-year-old Raju Raut said after cursing his best school friend.

“Everyone gets cheered up,” he said.

World observes Birthday of Prophet Mohammad on Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi

Sat 27 February, 2010

Pakistan prepares for Eid Miladun Nabi

Preparations for Eid Miladun Nabi– the birth anniversary of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have reached their climax. The birth anniversary is being celebrated on Saturday across the country with religious congregations, rallies and illumination of buildings and monuments.
 The shrine of Masoom Shah Bukhari is illuminated in Karachi. —ONLINE Photo

Source ddinews

Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi, which occurs in Rabi’ al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar is being celebrated on Saturday as the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad, also observed as his death anniversary. 

The day when his soul rested in peace in heaven is also known as ‘Barah Wafat’ when believers gather to recite special prayers and processions are also held at various places.

Eid-ul-Milad-un-Nabi is celebrated with traditional and religious fervour across the country.

On the occasion Muslims visit mosques and offer special prayers to Allah for the welfare of the humanity and the remission of all sins.

Muslims across the World remember this day with great devotion.

At present the teachings of Prophet Mohammed are relevant as it communicates the message of peace and brotherhood.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pictures of 2009 Diwali celebration in Krishna Mandir Lahore ,Pakistan

By Pakistan Hindu Post (PHP)

Diwali celebrated in Pakistan at Krishan Mandir Lahore despite continuing bomb blasts, casualties and internal turmoil threatening to destroy Pakistan
Photo by FAISAL ANJUM from Lahore

Open Letter: Ignoring Caste-Based Discrimination is not the Solution from (HAF)

Source Hindu American Foundation (HAF)
Feb 26,2010

I cannot begin to express my dismay at recently reading a piece by a prominent leader of an international Hindu organization founded by some of the most progressive Hindu leaders.  The unfortunate piece highlights a serious need for the Hindu community to awaken to the realities of caste-based discrimination as it exists today.
To state that, "Untouchability is a bygone problem in our country [India]. It is only the Church which has been harping on this signature tune of their proselytisation agenda," ignores a very real social evil that affects not only Hindus suffering under the archaic practices, but Hindus worldwide, who must live with the knowledge that our ancient Hindu teachings of tolerance, equality, love, compassion and dignity are at odds with our society's actions.  The reality is that untouchability is a major problem in India, one in which countless Hindus, including those from every major religious and spiritual organization, have dedicated their lives to uplifting. The problem of untouchability did not end with Swami Vivekananda's calls for its elimination, Swami Dayananda Saraswati's casteless ideology of Arya Samaj, Mahatma Gandhi's call for its eradication, nor the enactment of the Indian constitution.
Claiming that it is no longer an issue makes a mockery of Hindus who have dedicated their lives to its removal, working in every corner of India, in slums and villages, in mountain towns to desert encampments, from Mumbai to Calcutta, from Delhi to Chennai. It also ignores the fact that every major Hindu religious leader, including Swami Avdeshananda Giri, Swami Dayananda Saraswati and his AIM for Seva movement, Swami Bodhinatha Veylanswami, Mata Amritanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Sankar, Swami Tejomayananda, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the Shankaracharya of Kanchi, Swami Chidananda Saraswati and Dada Vaswani, has called for the end of untouchability and in fact, suggests a gross ignorance of these highly respected religious and spiritual leaders of India and Hinduism.
Brushing aside the current caste problem in India with broad sweeps of history, ignores the fact that not just Hindus, but huge numbers of Indians, still face some level of caste discrimination on a daily basis. Today, Hindus have the ability and capability to collectively rid India of caste discrimination and untouchability. Accepting Hindu society's current responsibility to do more for the caste problem does not mean Hindus have to ignore the role of Islamic invaders, British opportunists, Christian missionaries or Indian politicians in furthering caste discrimination or the fact that caste discrimination is a very gross reality in other religious and ethnic communities in India and worldwide. Yet we still have leaders who, by refusing to look at numerous studies on caste discrimination at face value and by refusing to listen to the masses, prevent the strengthening of Hindu society by their indifference.  In many ways, these leaders actually hinder Hindus from uniting. Thus, we urge Hindu leaders to look at the situation with objective eyes, rather than through lenses clouded with enmity from past invaders and current political machinations.
My own experiences, along with those of others at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), have been shaped by direct contact with villagers, who despite being proud Hindus and who can recite the Ramcharitamanas by heart, still are not allowed to enter there village temples or socialize freely without others constantly reminding them of their so-called low caste status. And similar experiences have been shared by many others, spanning all social, religious, cultural, linguistic, political and professional strata. These direct experiences cannot be ignored or minimized. I hope that others will speak out, as speaking out does not mean disrespect, but instead puts our conscience and hearts for the future of Hindus worldwide and Hindu dharma above blind respect for any particular leader.
HAF has also been working on its own report on caste discrimination, to not only highlight the reality of the problem, but also to show that while Hinduism is not the cause of the problem, it can be the solution to the problem. This report will be released in several months, and includes statements by prominent Hindu spiritual and religious leaders who acknowledge this problem and clarify how Hinduism can help resolve the social problem of caste discrimination. Ignoring the problem will not resolve it.  And so I urge the author of that unfortunate piece to reexamine the realities of India, acknowledge the social evil and use his leadership and prominence to aid in eradicating caste-based discrimination.
Mihir Meghani, M.D.
President and Co-Founder, Hindu American Foundation

Declare Nepal A Hindu State, Students Tell Government

February 26th, 2010 Source:

KATHMANDU, NEPAL, February 21, 2010: The Free Students’ Union (FSU), Balmiki Campus, today demanded that Nepal be declared a Hindu state. Issuing a press statement, FSU demanded that ancient religions, norms and values of the Nepali society be preserved.

“We’ll not be able to accept secular state,” the statement said, adding that the culture of the country is not resembled through this declaration. The statement mentioned that the Hindu religion is the identity of the country and it should be protected at all cost.

The statement urged the concerned agencies to protect the national identity and to ensure the future of people living in the country. The statement further stated that the Hindu religion is the backbone of the country and demanded the concerned bodies to go for referendum to take the decision regarding the issue.

Celebrating Holi In USA

February 24th, 2010 Source:

UNITED STATES, February 22, 2010 - Bloggermoms, a website that celebrates life and parenting at the intersection of multiple cultures, today released a package of ideas for celebrating Holi in schools, preschools and the workplace. The package contains ideas for crafts and celebrations in the classroom, hosting a Holi party for kids, precautions to keep in mind when celebrating Holi and even ideas to bring Holi into the office in a respectful yet fun way.

Holi, the festival of colors is one of India’s most colorful, vibrant and fun festivals. It is a celebration of spring and of the victory of good over evil. For most people, it is all about smearing colored powders or spraying colored water on each other. Holi is also celebrated in the USA and other parts of the world with large expat populations within friends and communities.

Schools and preschools interested in multicultural education or parents interested in bringing a little bit of their culture into the classrooms often look for ideas for celebrating Holi which are culturally appropriate, yet easier to manage and clean up in a class room environment. The article on ideas for celebrating Holi in schools and preschools is available at

New Hindu Temple Project in New Zealand

February 24th, 2010 Source:

NEW ZEALAND, February 13, 2010: The Sri Balaji Temple Project which is the first of its kind in New Zealand held its first prayers and conducted the Sudharsana Homan on 23rd January, 2010 at the Phoenix Hall in Hamilton. Secretary Bala Bhaskar Tikkisetty welcomed the hundreds of devotees present.

The Maha Sudharsana Homan, is performed for Lord Vishnu’s Chakram, the Lord’s most powerful weapon against all evil. In performing the Homan the powers of the Lord and Sudharsana Chakra are invoked through vedic mantras. The Yantra, a metal piece with Vedic and holy symbols is blessed in the Homan and are normally placed at the home altar or at the entrance of houses to ward off evil.

Balinese Hindus Gear Up For New Year and International Bali-India Yoga Festival II

February 26th, 2010
 Balinese Hindus Gear Up For New Year

JAKARTA, INDONESIA, February 17, 2010: Thousands of people across Bali have been busy making the giant ogoh-ogoh effigies in preparation for the celebrations of the upcoming Caka Hindu New Year 1932, popularly known as Nyepi, or the Day of Silence. The event falls on March 16. Local resident Wayan Chandra said making the ogoh-ogoh helps strengthen communal relation among neighbors. “It’s a collective work by all villagers,” he said.

The ogoh-ogoh are giant papier-mache demons that symbolize all things bad. Every banjar, or traditional village community, must prepare at least one ogoh-ogoh for each Nyepi. On the eve of the Caka New Year, Balinese Hindus parade them along the streets and burn them together to dissipate any negative energy.

The Caka New Year is observed in total quiet and contemplation. The entire island falls into darkness on the night, as the Hindu faithful are prohibited from lighting a fire or using electricity, or even leaving home. Virtually all activities will come to a halt for 24 hours, including tourism offices and the airport, while the streets will be deserted.

February 26th, 2010
Source: Press Release
 International Bali-India Yoga Festival II  
BALI, INDONESIA, February 2010: Bali-India Foundation will be organizing the second International Bali-India Yoga Festival from 3-10 March, 2010. The theme of the festival is ‘Yoga & Global Warming’. Bali, which has an ancestral relationship with India, shares a great concern about Global Warming. Bali, the Island of the Gods, where the sage Markandeya meditated and taught this divine practice of yoga to its people is a perfect place to discuss and find a solution to the problem of Global Warming and other various matters related to yoga.

The opening of this prestigious festival will simultaneously inaugurate ‘The Markandeya Yoga City’ at Gunung Sari, Singaraja, Bali. The Yoga city will be completed within five years on a total of 15 hectares of land surrounded by beautiful forests and mountains 1000 meters above sea level in a Balinese architectural style.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pakistani Hindu legislator's appeal for protection for minorities


A prominent Hindu legislator in Pakistan's troubled northwest on Thursday condemned the kidnapping and killing of members of minority communities and appealed to the government to provide adequate protection to them. 

Kishore Kumar, who was elected to the North-West Frontier Province Assembly as a candidate of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal religious alliance, condemned the beheading of a Sikh trader and abduction of his colleagues by militants as well as the kidnapping of Robin Singh, a Hindu man from Peshawar.

He said minorities were facing “many problems” and demanded that the government should take effective measures to protect their rights in line with the constitution.

The abduction of Sikhs was not a local or personal issue but concerned the entire nation. “The majority is suffering from various kinds of injustices while the minorities in the region have been hit hard by growing extremism,” Kumar told PTI.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

BBC confirms abduction of Hindu in Khyber district , Pakistan

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Elsewhere in the troubled north-west, a Pakistani Hindu has been kidnapped in Khyber district. His abductors have demanded 10 million rupees ($117,619) for his release.

Earlier this week a Pakistani Sikh who had been kidnapped was beheaded in the same area.

Rs 10m ransom demand for Hindu man abducted in Pak‎ - (Times of India)

Talibanised Pakistan - Real threat to Minorities & Womens

By Pakistan Hindu Post (PHP)
Talibanised Pakistan poses difficulties for  Minorities and women
24 May 2009

With the strengthening of fundamentalist forces in Pakistan, women from minority communities, particularly Dalit Hindus face an uncertain future in the country. Discriminatory laws and the government’s failure to take action against societal forces hostile to minorities have fostered intolerance, says journalist Lys Anzia.

As violence continues between 4,000 Taliban splinter groups and Islamabad soldiers, Christian minority refugees, global rescue agencies and Pakistan’s own army leaders nervously wait to see who, in the end, will end up controlling the region. Some Christian women and their families will be forced to stay behind, as they have been unable to leave due to the expense of travel.

Minority girl from Sindh Province/ Photo credit: Alysha/ WNN

“Christian, Hindu and Sikh families have been forced to flee because the Taliban imposed on them jizia [a tax levied on non-Muslims living under Islamic rule],” said Catholic Archbishop, Lawrence John Saldanha, in a letter released by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

“Now minority communities in the province are forced to endure unemployment, intimidation and migration,” continued the Archbishop’s message.

Pakistan’s religious minorities

Minority religions and sectarian groups in Pakistan come from a vast collection of religious diversity, which includes Christians, Buddhists, Ahmadis, Zikris, Hindus, Kalasha, Parsis, Sikhs and Shia Muslim sects, including Ismailis and Bohras. Ethnic regional groups come from five different communities, including the Baloch, Huhajir, Punjabis, Pushtuns and Sindhis.

Although 25% of religious minority women are not considered disadvantaged, Hindu minority women who live on the bottom of society face many untold limitations.

A policy of “living invisibly” with family members is often the only answer for protection for many minority Hindus families who suffer under the great specter of poverty in Pakistan.

The most recent Pakistan 1998 census shows minority totals in the country to number somewhere between 11 to 13 million. Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus claim to have a population of four million each.

Hindus feel the heat in Pakistan 

Hindu Minority report from BBC

Pakistan is home to some 2.5 million Hindus officially (unofficial number is more than Double) , 95% of them living in the southern Sindh province.

Most are poor, low-caste peasants.

However there are also some successful upper caste businessmen. In Sindh, they are a hot commodity for bandits.

They lack the protection afforded to local tribal Muslims.

Whole tribes often go to war with one another in rural Sindh over any slight to their members.

That cushion is not available to the Hindu minority.

Protection money

In recent years kidnapping for ransom and armed robberies have multiplied in the area and Hindus have increasingly been the focus of attacks.

Hindus have to pay thousands of pounds to avoid kidnapping

Many pay protection money regularly to local gangs or influential figures. But in spite of this they are still targeted.

Santosh Kumar, a rice trader from Larkana town in upper Sindh, and his two brothers were kidnapped in separate incidents in 2006. They were later released after paying a huge ransom.

Another wealthy trader from the nearby city of Sukkur in Sindh, Sundeep Kumar, was kidnapped in 2005.

He was released after paying a ransom of over a million rupees ($16,000), according to local sources.

The ransom can sometimes go up to five times that amount.

But not all Hindus are as rich as Sundeep Kumar.

Last August, a youth, Ramesh Lal, was kidnapped. His relatives could not afford the ransom, and his body was later found at a police check post.

In the last three years at least five Hindu traders have been killed after being kidnapped or offering resistance.

"Powerful oppress the weak"

Ramesh Lal, a Hindu MP in Pakistan's parliament says, "The Hindus are not as rich as portrayed."

"Often the kidnappers ask a huge amount that the families cannot pay. As a result the hostages are killed."

Even Hindu women and children are not spared by the kidnappers

The President of the Hindu council in Sukkur district, Mukhi Aishwar Lal says, "the powerful always oppress weaker communities... Hindus are weak so they are targeted."

He relates how a few years back a Hindu family travelling by local bus were kidnapped by local bandits, while rest of the passengers were allowed to go.

Around that time some foreigners were also kidnapped in the same area. The police secured their release without any payment, but the Hindus were released after a huge ransom was doled out.

Such incidents increase the feeling among Hindus that they have no say in power and authority in the country.

Political apartheid

In Pakistan's political system, the minorities, such as Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, remain outcasts despite represented in every major political party.

After Gen Pervez Musharraf seized power in 1999, he scrapped the controversial separate electorate system introduced former dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq in 1980s.

Under the separate electorate system, non-Muslims could only vote for candidates of their own religion. Seats were reserved for minorities in the national and provincial assemblies.

Critics said Muslim candidates no longer had any incentive to pay attention to the aspirations of the minorities.

Gen Musharraf hoped to reverse that by the simple step of abolishing the system. But that appears to have failed.

Sudham Chand, a Hindu community leader who led a local campaign to scrap the separate electorate system was killed in broad daylight. His murder conveyed many a message.

The killers were not arrested. His brother later migrated to India.

Ramesh Lal, a member of the National Assembly, says that the restoration of the conventional electoral system is of little use if the minorities have no security.

And still, he complains, no one asks the minorities what problems tPakistani Sindhi Hindu rape murhey are suffering.

Are Western funded Christian Missionary committed to wipe out Hinduism , INDIA ???

Feb 24,2010

Mumbai: The close-knit Sindhi community in Ulhasnagar, north-east of Mumbai, is undergoing a social upheaval of sorts. Over the last two years, a sizeable number in the township — primarily created for Sindhis who came in as refugees from Pakistan’s Sindh province after partition — have drifted away from Hinduism and embraced Christianity.

The “conversions” have sent shockwaves among the community elders, specially since Indian Sindhis, weighed down by the scars of partition, are known to be staunch followers of Hinduism.

Most of those who are shifting their faith allegiance to Christianity are in their 40s and, in fact, had been devout followers of Hinduism.

Out of four lakh Sindhi-speaking Hindus in Ulhasnagar, around 7,000 (1.75%) have changed their faith in the last two years, according to a rough count. The growing number of “conversions” has scared the Sindhi-speaking Hindus to such an extent that they are contemplating a social boycott of the neo-Christians. Those who are taking to Christianity are not branding it as a conversion; instead, they say they have only changed their faith. Most have not even changed their Hindu names, which is turning out to be a major bone of contention with the Hindus.

“We are not against any religion but if they do not believe in Hinduism and are drawn closer to Christianity, they should adopt Christian names. We have called a meeting of the saints in our community in July. In that meeting, we will take a decision to boycott the converted Sindhis socially if they do not change their names,” said Sai Balram, general secretary of the All India Sindhi Samaj, one of the prominent organisations of the community.
Global recession is to blame, say Hindu leaders in the community. Ulhasnagar is largely a business township, full of small scale industries and traders.

Balram said, “The Christian missionaries helped the small businessmen rebuild their businesses. Since then, there has been a wave of conversion.”

But Ram Budhwani, a resident who follows Christianity, rubbishes the argument. “I started visiting the chapel to get peace of mind. I lost my wife in an accident two years ago. I became an alcoholic. I suffered heavy losses in my business and had to close down my shop. But since I am visiting the prayer house (known as Prarthana Ghar in Ulhasnagar) I am making progress in my business. I set up my shop again and am doing well. I have changed my faith, not the religion,” he said.

The Sindhi-speaking Hindus in Ulhasnagar feel people like Budhwani have betrayed the community. “Sindhis are known for their loyalty to Hinduism. We preferred to leave our places (in Pakistan) during the Partition but refused to convert into Islam. Now, we are confused how to face the situation,” a senior citizen from the community said.