We are celebrating two important events on one day, said Hindu Panchayat Sukkur president Mukhi Eshwar Lal Makheja while talking to The Express Tribune on Wednesday at Gao Shala, where a large number of people had gathered to celebrate Holi.
“It gives us immense pleasure to celebrate Pakistan Day and Holi together,” he said. “Like other countrymen, Pakistan is also our homeland and we are proud to be Pakistani,” he added.
Anjali and her brother Mahesh were completely drenched and were busy throwing colour at others, laughing and shouting with glee. Children were also celebrating the festival of colours with their parents. Santosh Kumar, who danced with his friends to music played by a Sindhi band with silver colour on his face, said life without happiness is nothing. “God has created us to enjoy and praise him, because whatever has been given to us by God is more than enough,” he added.
Kumar explained that today is the festival of colour, enjoyment and music. “When we throw colour on each other it is an act of showering love upon our friends, relatives and the whole community,” he said. “Muslims have their own festivals and Hindus, Christians and Sikhs have their own and I see all these festivals as the blessing of Allah,” he said. In Pakistan it gives minorities more pleasure when our Muslim brethren join us in our festivities, added Kumar.
At Gao Shala, a big pool was filled with coloured water and people danced and threw colour at each other in the pool. Besides chanting religious slogans, the participants also chanted slogans in favour of Pakistan. Sweets and soft drinks were also being offered to visitors.
Makheja said the word ‘holi’ originates from ‘Holika’, one of the evil sisters of King Hiranyakashipu. According to him, the festival itself is believed to have links with the Parahlada-Puri Temple in Multan. He explained that some time ago, the temple was damaged due to riots but now it has been rehabilitated. This temple was constructed by Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu’s son, he informed.
Makheja said his elders had told him that King Hiranyakashipu was the King of Multan and had earned certain powers, due to which he had become very arrogant and declared himself as god and ordered people to worship him. Hiranyakashipu’s own son, Prahlada disagreed with his claims, as he was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and was subjected to cruel punishments, according to Makheja.
“Nothing seemed to work but then Holika, Prahlada’s evil aunt, advised her brother to make Prahlada embrace a pre-heated iron bar,” he explained. To the surprise of the king, his son not only embraced the hot bar but kept smiling at his father and Prahlada’s followers started dancing out of jubilance and threw colour, which was the start of the Holi festival, he added.
“The respect, equal opportunities and equal playing field in all socio-political sectors that the Pakistan Peoples Party has provided to the minorities cannot be found in any other party or the government,” said Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah at the Hindu Gymkhana in Karachi. He said that in the history of the country and the province, only the Sindh government passed the Hindu Marriage Act.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2016.