The Hindu community of Hyderabad celebrated Holi on Thursday.
Thousands gathered at the Acme Water Park to revel in the religious festival of painting people in powdered and watery colours.
“It’s an exhilarating experience,” exclaimed Dr Harichand Lal of the Hyderabad Hindu Panchayat, who organised the event with a monetary contribution from his community. He said many Hindu families from different parts of the province had come.
Although the event was celebrated at several different places in the city the Panchayat put up the biggest show of the day at the park. Small groups of young men roamed around in bikes and on foot, however, the main celebrations were restricted to their places of worship. Dr Lal said the Panchayat has been organising Holi regularly but the turnout was greater than any time before.
“We have come from Matiari. Earlier we used to go to the Mandir of Odero Lal,” said Dr Laxman Lal who was with a family of seven people.
Amid celebrations there were also protests. All the people, young and old, fastened black armbands before they entered the park. “This is in protest against the abuse of our rights and particularly to condemn the forced conversions of our daughters,” said Dr Lal.
According to Advocate Om Prakash, the Hindus restricted the event’s enjoyment to their houses and mandirs in many parts of Sindh. “There is a prevailing sentiment that our community is being deliberately harassed. Some forces want to see an exodus of Hindus from their motherland, Sindh,” he commented.
The day also saw protest demonstrations by Hindus who were supported by Sindhi nationalists. President of Awami Tehreek Ayaz Palijo, who sat for over two hours at a token hunger strike camp set up in connection with world women’s day, condemned the forced conversions. “Our Sindhi Hindu daughters are being forced to convert through marriages. The tragedy with them is that they can’t even speak of their suffering because they are threatened,” Palijo said.
Prem Chand, the president of the Young Hindu Panchayat who protested outside the press club, said the government has failed to protect the minorities. “We began with crying against the crimes against our community. And now we have been pointing out the migration of many families. But, the government doesn’t appear concerned.”
The Hindu community in Sanghar, Umerkot, Shaheed Benazirabad and Mirpurkhas organised big events to celebrate the day. However, in Tharparker, Dadu, Matiari and some other districts the fun was restricted as no big event could be organised.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2012.