The third day of Diwali celebrations continued with traditional fervour here in Rawalpindi on Friday. Prayers were held and houses were decorated with lamps lit to symbolise the homecoming of the Hindu god Rama.
However, the Hindu community as a whole did not gather at Krishna Mandir in Saddar.
Following the death of Nusrat Bhutto, they decided to arrange a grand Diwali function next month at Pakistan National Council of Arts in Islamabad.
Talking to The Express Tribune, All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat President Om Parakash said they had deferred the gathering at Krishna Mandir after the death of Nusrat Bhutto. He said that the day was spent visiting friends and families and having meals together.
Explaining the history of the festival of lights, Parakash said that Diwali is celebrated every year by the members of the Hindu community in memory of the return of Raja Ramachandra after a 14-year exile from his kingdom.
“On the eve of his return, followers light lamps and beat drums to mark the homecoming of Ram, who was exiled by his father, Dasrat, on his wife, Kikai’s, insistence”, Parakash said.
Besides Krishna Mandir in Saddar, there are two other temples; one at Grace Lanes near Benazir Bhutto International Airport and another in Lal Kurti, the president added.
The event is celebrated with special arrangements by the Hindu community, who decorate their houses with lights and oil lamps while using fireworks and sparklers and preparing different types of food items, with youngsters also getting gifts from adults.
The start of Diwali is marked by recitations from the Ramyana early in the morning. “In addition, women make rangolis at their doorsteps with different coloured powders. The colours symbolise life and wealth and are meant to welcome in gods and goddesses,” informed Om Parakash.
Regarding the safety of the Hindu community in the twin cities, Parakash said they were as safe as the rest of the citizens.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2011.