LAHORE: “The brother-sister relationship is as sacred in Hinduism as in any other religion,” Amarnath Randhawa, the president of Hindu Sudhar Sabha, said on Wednesday.
He was speaking at a function, organised at a local hotel by Hindu Sudhar Sabha and the Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPPS), to celebrate Raksha Bandhan (Rakhi).
Raksha Bandhan, which means ‘the bond of protection’ in Sanskrit, is an ancient Hindu festival that celebrates the love and duty between brothers and their sisters. On this day, women tie rakhi (sacred thread) on their brothers’ wrists, and pray for the their wellbeing. In return, they pledge to protect and take care of their sisters.
“In the subcontinent, a white rakhi is tied by friends, red by women on their husbands and orange or yellow by women on their brothers’ wrists,” Randhawa said. Besides Hindus, members of Muslim, Christian and Sikh communities also attended the event.
Minorities Affairs Minister Tahir Khalil Sindhu, the chief guest, said he was pleased to participate in what he called an event of happiness. “We should all pledge to always stand with the oppressed instead of favouring with oppressors.” He said the provincial government had taken various steps aimed at the welfare of minority communities. He said the government had made sure that marriages of members of minority communities were registered. Provision of additional 20 marks for minority students had also been ensured, he said.
He said all citizens in the country were equal before law according to the Constitution. He said he would make sure that a community centre was built for Hindus.
“We have already changed syllabus from grade one to nine and introduced chapters on the role of national heroes from minority communities,” the minister said.
IPSS founder Saeeda Diep said there was a notion among some Muslims in Pakistan that Hindus must leave for India. “But they [Hindus], too, are the sons [and daughters] of this soil.” She said nobody should create problems for them. She said in Sindh, some Hindu girls had been married to landlords following forced conversions. She said 10,000 Hindus families had migrated to India over the last two years. “On this event of love, let us pledge that we will not discriminate against anyone on the basis of their religion,” Diep said.
Anil Kumar, a resident of Sukkur who is in Lahore to study physiotherapy, told The Express Tribune that he had attended Rakhi celebrations organised at such level for the first time. “We used to celebrate such festivities at our homes. I am very happy to see that people from other religions, too, are celebrating with us. I was not expecting this in Pakistan considering there is a lot of anti-Hindu sentiment.”
The event started with a song sung by Bakht Arif. It was followed by a performance about the significance of rakhi. MPA Shakil Elvin, MPA Kanji Ram, and Parliamentary Secretary Tariq Masih Gill were also present on the occasion.
Hindu Sudhar Sabha’s Aroon Kumar Kundnani also spoke at the function.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2016.