KARACHI: In a Hindu majority town of Tharparkar, a rare case of interfaith harmony can be observed in the holy month of Muharram when the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) and his family is remembered.
“Mithi is a city where Hindus fast in Ramazan, Muslims don’t slaughter cows and no temple bells ring during Azan timings,” said Raja Rohit Karmani, a software engineer, while talking to The Express Tribune.
Rohit, who passionately takes part in the Muharram procession, added, “I participate in the Muharram procession as a sign of solidarity with my Muslim brethren and show my respect for the sacrifice made by Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) and his family.”
“The Hindu community shares the same love for the Ahl-e-bait (family of Prophet Muhammad PBUH) as the Muslim community and in doing so we honour the sacrifice made by Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), which is a sacrifice for all of humanity,” he said.
According to Rohit, the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) inspires a lot of devotion from the local Hindu community. He said that despite his 70-year-old grandmother being a Hindu, she makes religious offerings and lights incense at the local imambargah on 10th Muharram every year.
Sushil Kumar Malani, a local politician who organises sabeels and niyaz in Muharram, told The Express Tribune, “Muharram is a holy month which we observe with the same religious devotion as our Muslim brethren.” He added, “There is no such difference between the Hindu or Muslim community in Mithi.”
“The interfaith harmony in Mithi is ingrained in our culture. We have Muslims who celebrate Diwali and Holi and Hindus who observe Eid and Muharram. That is how things have been and we strive to keep it that way,” he further adds.
Raj Asnani, a social worker from Mithi who also actively takes part in the religious observance of Muharram, said, “The Hindu community in Sindh has always held a strong belief towards inter-religious harmony and we have a special reverence for Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) and the martyrs of Karbala.” He said that in respect of Muharram, the Hindu community does not celebrate any of their religious or cultural events and many do not even play music at their homes or temples.
Raj recalls that as far as he can remember ever since his childhood days, on every 9th of Muharram his father took him to a household of a Hindu family who organised majlis and where Hindus and Muslims came together to remember and honour the sacrifice made by Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA).
“Sabeels and niyaz of Muharram are regularly arranged by the local Hindu community of Mithi and many Hindus actively take part in the majalis too. I see Hindu youth enthusiastically taking part to serve as the security of the Muharram processions and many wear black shalwar kameez in religious observance,” he said while talking to The Express Tribune.
“Many women tie ‘mannat ka dhaagah’ [threads of sacred vow] and touch the foreheads of their newly born against the passing taziya so that they can be protected from the shadow of the devil. While other women who aren’t able to bear a child pray towards the taziya so that they bear a child,” he further added.
Raj said, “During the past few years, when there was a rise in sectarianism in Karachi, the security forces in Mithi tried to bar the Hindu community from attending the Muharram processions, but the Muslim community protested and the Hindu community was allowed once again to participate in the Muharram rites.”
Raj ended with the Urdu poetry of a Hindu Brahmin poetess Devi Roop Kumari, who shared her love of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) in the following verse “Main sun kay dastan-e-Karbala, main toh Hindu he rahey, aankhein Hussaini ho gaye” (After listening to the story of the holy sacrifice at Karbala, even though I stayed Hindu but my tearful eyes turned to Hussain).
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2018.