No Ram Leela this year out of respect for Muharram

Published: October 10, 2016
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Celebrating victory: Navratri, which means nine nights, is observed every year to pay homage to Hindu deity Durga and to celebrate Ram’s victory over Ravana, which symbolises the victory of good over evil. PHOTOS: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Celebrating victory: Navratri, which means nine nights, is observed every year to pay homage to Hindu deity Durga and to celebrate Ram’s victory over Ravana, which symbolises the victory of good over evil. PHOTOS: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

KARACHI: In a bid to promote interfaith harmony, the Hindu community has decided not to perform the burning of the 50-feet-high effigy of Ravana at the culmination of the Ram Leela play which occurs almost every year during Navratri at Swami Narayan Mandir out of respect for Muharram.

“A large number of people of our community come every year to watch Ram Leela,” says Kishan Lal, the vice-president of Swami Narayan Sheva Garba Mandal. “But because roads are closed out of security these days and many people can’t come, we decided not to perform the play. Nobody told us not to perform the Ram Leela. But obviously they [Muslims] are our brothers. They respect us and we respect them.” He added that the effigy of Ravana will not be burnt this year as the rite is carried out only when Ram Leela happens.

“Everyone should respect each other,” said a visitor, Bahanji Lakshman, while talking about not having Ram Leela this year out of respect for Muharram.

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Navratri, which means nine nights, is observed every year to pay homage to Hindu deity Durga and to celebrate Ram’s victory over Ravana, which symbolises the victory of good over evil.

Festivities

Three children were hopping towards the ground where the garba and other celebrations were taking place. “We will play dandiya [a dance performance with sticks in hands],” said one of them, Ronit, adding that they perform the dance every year.

Inside the ground, women sat on the left and men on the right while a large number of young women and children performed garba to traditional music. Jamna, an elderly woman who lives in the mandir, said that the area is like a village for the Hindu community. Sitting beside Jamna, Susheela said that she got new clothes for Navratri. “Navratri is celebrated for nine days in honour of Ambay Mata [Durga],” she explained. “We fast during the day and celebrate and dance during the night. After 20 days of Dusehra [celebrated the day after Navratri], we will have our Diwali.”

Another young woman, Suman, shared that she was really enjoying the festival and comes to the temple every year. “We come here and play dandiya,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Talking about the celebrations, Lal stressed that their women attend the events late at night without facing any kind of problem.

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Free drinks

Clay pots were lined across a table inside the temple, where young men were offering free water and sherbet to visitors. “We distribute milkshake before and after aarti,” said Dipesh Kishan, adding that they provide it all for free at their camp as not everyone can afford to buy bottled water. He explained that he and his friends arrange the money on their own for setting up the camp, adding that the entire neighbourhood contributes whatever they can. 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2016.

 

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Ajay Gupta
    Oct 10, 2016 - 9:37AM

    & here in Kolkata, Durga puja immersion had been put on hold because of Muharram. Yes I know Hindus have volunteered not to hold ram leela, but surely timings cud be adjusted to suit both? If this doesn’t show the difference in the two democracies, nothing does. Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Oct 10, 2016 - 9:51AM

    Good gesture by the Hindu community in Pakistan.Recommend

  • RB
    Oct 10, 2016 - 3:20PM

    The burning of Rawans Effigy is an event I look forward to every year, marks very precious memories from my childhood. While, im very proud the community decided to cancel the event, a delay would’ve been perfect to keep both parties happy. :( Recommend

  • Nafees Qureshi
    Oct 10, 2016 - 5:05PM

    When this happens the other way round, you will become true Muslims on that day. Recommend

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