Saturday, March 19, 2011
- Extremism, kidnappings take gloss away from Holi celebrations in Pakistan
By: Amar Guriro | Published: March 18, 2011
KARACHI - Hindus would not be able to celebrate their religious festival Holi with traditional enthusiasm due to the recent floods, kidnappings for ransom of adults and children from Sindh and Balochistan, and increasing religious extremism.
Residents of several towns and cities of Sindh - the hub of Pakistani Hindus - have announced that they would observe the festival with simplicity for various reasons.
Holi - the festival of spring - would be observed on Saturday and Rangoli - the festival of colours - would fall on Sunday.
Pakistani Hindus are believed to be the biggest religious minority of the country with a population of, according to the 1998 census, 2.7 million people, majority of whom live in Sindh. In the northern districts of the province, the recent waves of kidnappings for ransom of minor Hindus have adversely affected the community in the districts.
A detailed research conducted by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child National Manager Salam Dharejo reveals that between 2008 and 2010, at least 23 minors - some as young as three years old - were kidnapped for ransom in Kashmore and Kandhkot towns, nine of whom were Hindus, including four girls.
The study also stated that recently, 12 more child kidnapping cases were brought to light, and half of the victims belonged to Hindu families, whereas most of these children have not been recovered yet. Due to increasing kidnappings for ransom of Baloch Hindus in Balochistan, several families have so far migrated to India and other countries, whereas many others are planning to leave.
“In the northern districts of Sindh, most Hindus are businessmen, so their children are being kidnapped for ransom. Under these circumstances, how can Hindu families celebrate the festivals of happiness,” said Revachand, a resident of Kashmore Town. In the past, the Sindhi Hindus of Umerkot, Tharparkar and Sanghar - the districts with thick Hindu population - celebrated the colourful festival of Holi on a massive scale, but in 2009, a tragic incident occurred, because of which the local Hindus are still in fear.
On March 11, 2009, the Hindu community was celebrating Holi when some Muslims in the area, who found some things written on the road with colours in connection with Holi celebrations, considered the writings sacrilegious. Several towns in the districts and nearby districts were closed down while angry mobs attacked the properties of Hindus. “Though it was the first incident of its kind, we have restricted our celebrations to limited areas to avoid any unpleasant event,” said a resident of Vahro Sharif village near Umerkot.
Besides that, in the recent floods, a large number of Hindus, who were working as landless peasants in kutcha area - the worst flood-hit area of the province - were rendered homeless, and despite the passage of several months, many of them are still living at relief camps; therefore, they would also be unable to celebrate their religious festival. Since centuries, Sindh - also known as the land of Sufis - has been a model of religious harmony, and Sindhi Muslims usually celebrate Hindu festivals with their Hindu friends, but times have changed.
Increasing religious extremism in the Pakistani society has also affected the Sufi Sindh, and many Sindhi Muslims, despite willing to join their Hindu friends in their celebrations, are unable to do so, which is a bad omen for Sindhi Hindus.
- Introduction to Holi day: Good vs evil, not white vs colour in Pakistan
Sindh : Draped in white with an unlimited supply of coloured water and powder and glasses of bhang – you are now prepared for Holi. But the festival of joy is not just about colour and fun, it’s about the arrival of spring. And more importantly, the triumph of good against evil.
Hindus in Pakistan are celebrating Holi on Saturday (today) – the festival of colours – that falls in the lunar month of Phalguna of the Hindu calendar.
The frolicsome colour fights that are the highlight of the festival will, however, not start until the Holika Dahan (the burning of Holika) which is the raison d’être of the day that falls on Poornamashi (a full moon). An effigy of the demon Holika is burned on a stack of wood, straw and bamboo.
In Karachi, the biggest celebrations are held at the Swami Narayan Mandir near the city courts where the Holika fire is burnt at sunset with symbols of purity such as rice, sandal wood, ghee and milk. Special Holi prayers are offered with the worship of Ganesh and are accompanied by sermons, informed Raja Chauhan, who claims to have started the celebrations of Hindu festivals in the city.
Hymns are sung and free food is distributed at temples.
According to one tradition, newlyweds are to take seven rounds around the Holika fire – just as they take seven rounds at their wedding – to add purity in their relations. Festivities last for two days. This year there are 13 Holi events being held at different places in the city, said Chauhan. “We are going to have special prayers for the victory of Pakistan in the upcoming World Cup match against Australia.”
Pakistan Hindu Welfare Association chairperson Mangla Sharma said an estimated 0.3 million Hindus reside in Karachi and the numbers are increasing every day as they are migrating from interior Sindh.
- 2011 Holi in Punjab State of Pakistan
In Lahore, a formal event will be held at the Krishna Temple where special security measures have been taken, said Syed Faraz Abbas, the Evacuee Trust Property Board deputy secretary of shrines. He said the temple has been guarded by CCTV cameras, metal detectors and walk-through gates. There will be minimal celebrations in respect for slain minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti.
NOTE : Lahore is the capital of the Pakistan province of Punjab and the second largest city in Pakistan, after Karachi. A legend based on oral traditions holds that Lahore, known in ancient times as Lavapuri ("City of Lava" in Sanskrit), was founded by Prince Lava or Loh, the son of Rama, the Hindu deity, while Kasur was founded by his twin brother Prince Kusha. To this day, Lahore Fort has a vacant temple dedicated to Lava (also pronounced Loh, hence Loh-awar or "The Fort of Loh").
The city of Lahore has a Hindu-Rajput origin. The earliest princes were said to be Rajputs from Ayodhya, of the same family as those who reigned in Gujrat and Mewar. Hieun Tsang, the Chinese traveller, who visited the Punjab in 630 AD, speaks of a large city, containing many thousands of families, chiefly Brahmans, situated on the eastern frontier of the kingdom of Cheka, which he says, extended from the Indus to the Beas.
Hinduism : Good vs evil
Holika was the daughter of the demon king Hiranyakashipu. He was granted a boon by Brahma for his long penance due to which he could not be killed “during day or night; inside a home or outside; not on earth or the sky; neither by man nor an animal; neither by astra (weapons that are launched) nor by shastra (weapons used by hand)” according to the Vaishnaya theology. Hiranyakashipu grew arrogant, demanding people worship him instead of the gods. But his own son, Prahlada, was a devotee of the god Vishnu. After trying several times to kill his own son, he ordered his daughter, Holika, to burn her own brother Prahlada. Holika, in her attempt, was burnt herself, while Prahlada emerged unscathed.
Hiranyakashipu was killed later by Vishnu at dusk (which was neither day nor night), on the steps of the porch of his house (which was neither inside the house nor outside) by restraining him on his lap (not the sky or the earth) and mauling him with his claws (neither astra or shastra).
- 2011 Holi not the same in Balochistan State this year in Pakistan
QUETTA: The Hindu community in Balochistan has decided to celebrate Holi with simplicity this year as their top spiritual leader, abducted three months ago, is still missing.
Meanwhile in Kalat District, the community has decided to cancel all celebrations because of the assassination of a member of the royal family of Kalat. Agha Mehmood Ahmedzai, who is also the nephew of a provincial minister, was shot dead early this week.
The decision was taken during a meeting of the community’s Kalat chapter under the chairmanship of Divaan Harichand, Makhi Chand and Chaudhry Jettanand. Maharaja of the historic Kali Mandir, Luckmi Chand Garji, was abducted last December and there is still no trace of him.
“Law enforcement agencies have failed to trace the kidnapped Hindu leader despite a lapse of three months,” Harichand said, adding that the government had been assuring the community for the maharaja’s safe recovery but his whereabouts were yet to be ascertained.
The population of Hindus in Balochistan is more than 200,000. The festival of Holi is scheduled to be celebrated on Saturday.
Below is link of NOTE from Pakistan Hindu League (PHL)