Minorities’ rights: Goraknath Temple reopens after 60 years in Peshawar

Reopening is scheduled to conincide with Diwali on October 30.


Manzoor Ali October 21, 2011

PESHAWAR:


The Hindu community of Peshawar is overjoyed to know that a temple which had been closed for over 60 years is about to reopen.


The Goraknath Temple at Gor Khatri is scheduled to open on October 30 in a special ceremony coinciding with Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

Members of the Hindu community opened the 160-year-old temple on Thursday to make arrangements for the opening ceremony.

Kaka Ram, who went through lengthy litigation to open the temple, told The Express Tribune that he was overwhelmed by the opening. “I spent my entire life in the pursuit of opening this temple for worship,” he remarked.

Ram and his mother had claimed that the temple’s property, which had been taken over by the police, followed by the Evacuee Property Board and the archaeology department, actually belonged to belonged to them.

However, a two-member bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC), in its verdict on September 15, wrote that they have failed to provide the legal evidence for the property. At the same time, the court noted that stopping religious activities at a place of worship was against all canons and laws.

The courts’ directives made it clear that the temple has been opened for religious purposes only.

“My father, Pandit Kamoram, refused to relocate to India at the time of partition and decided to settle in Pakistan. However, after his death in 1960, we were not able to protect our property and it was taken over by the authorities,” said Ram.

He explained that the city administration demolished his house nine years back to make a park. Since then, he and his mother were struggling in court.

The temple itself is quite small and surrounded by nine rooms on two sides. The white structure situated in the middle of the enclosure has two small rooms where statues deities will be kept for worship. Both rooms are connected with an archway and have three domes.

Updesh, a Hindu leader, said the Hindu community was really glad to have another place to worship.

The Hindu community has also hoisted their red, black and yellow colours over the temple and its gate, while a number of devotees had their lunch in the temple on Thursday while making arrangements for the upcoming event.

Jay Pal, a resident of Gulgasht Colony, also appreciated the temple’s opening and thanked the PHC for providing a place of worship to them.

Peshawar Hindu Balmik Sahba President Ram Lal also appreciated Kaka Ram’s efforts and expressed joy over the temple’s opening.

“The majority of the Hindus in Peshawar are Balmik and they only have three temples, two of which were closed down. The Sikhs and Hindus are engaged in a legal battle over the ownership of a religious site in RA Bazaar. The Sikhs claim that the site is a Gurduwara, while Hindus claim that it is a temple which has been closed down for several years,” Lal explained.

He said that the Goraknath Temple had been closed since partition and the Kali Bari Temple was the only place of worship for 570 Hindu families until now.

As Ram Lal was speaking to The Express Tribune, signs of concern echoed among others at the temple. Standing nearby, two men present nearby were discussing the condition of the temple, during which one of them said, “Don’t you know how many temples have been converted into houses? Isn’t it enough that we are getting this place to worship at least?”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2011. 

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