NEW - Vedic/Hindu Calendar for 2013

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

Monday, March 8, 2010

How Hindus prepare for Navratri Pooja in Pakistan


By Amar Guriro

KARACHI: The Hindus of the city have launched preparations to celebrate the religious festival of Navratri, the first of a series of festivals ahead of Diwali, which will be celebrated on October 28. Navratri (nine nights) will begin on September 28, in which two goddesses revered in the Hindu religion, Saraswati and Durga, will be worshipped, while a third goddess, Lakshmi, will be worshipped on Diwali.

Most Hindus across the globe celebrate in their own way and in Sindh, most Hindus will begin celebrating Navratri 30 days before Diwali. This means they will celebrate the nine nights of Navratri Pooja (worship), followed by Dasairo (the tenth day), and Diwali follows twenty days after Dasairo.

“These nine nights of Navratri are the most sacred nights. A large number of people restrict themselves to a room and begin special worship ceremonies to make Shakti Devi (the goddess of power) happy,” said young Shakantala. She had come to purchase some brass lamps and other Pooja items for the festivals at a small temple in Gulshan-e-Iqbal town.

In some temples, small makeshift stalls have been installed where shopkeepers are selling Pooja item including brass lamps, Charnamantra pots, and agarbatti (incense sticks) stands. As the celebrations draw closer, these shops will also start selling betel leaves, betel nuts, coconuts, roses, jasmine, lotus and other flowers held as an important part of the Pooja.

“In Hinduism, the brass metal is taken to be the most pure metal and saffron the most sacred color. Hindus believe that these touch intellectuality, so we mostly use Pooja items made of brass and cover ourselves, whether completely or just our heads, with a saffron-colored cloth,” explained Chandar Parkash, a pundit at a small temple on main University Road.

Many Hindus get their houses cleaned before the festival, usually on Umavas (a moonless night), a night before Navratri.

Some Hindu communities in Sindh celebrate Sarhad 16 days before Navratri, in which male family members perform Tarpan, offering food to birds, especially crows, and later, they offer food items and small gift to the young children, particularly girls, in the neighborhood. Other communities celebrate Sarhad during the nine-day long Navratri. “Some festivals are celebrated by all Hindus in Pakistan and India, but depending on cultural background, how they celebrate can vary,” said Lakhraj Gul, a social worker.

He said that some of the Hindu festivals celebrated in Sindh are not even known in India and several festivals celebrated in India are not celebrated in Sindh. “Most of the festivals are culturally based,” he explained.

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