Without a single temple to go to, Hindus in Islamabad celebrate diwali

Published: November 14, 2012
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Besham and his family perform pooja on diwali night; he lights up a sparkler on the terrace of his home. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS

Besham and his family perform pooja on diwali night; he lights up a sparkler on the terrace of his home. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS

Besham and his family perform pooja on diwali night; he lights up a sparkler on the terrace of his home. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS Besham and his family perform pooja on diwali night; he lights up a sparkler on the terrace of his home. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS
ISLAMABAD: 

While the main celebrations for Diwali are set to be held in Gracy Lines Temple near Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Wednesday (today), a number of people celebrated the festival at home amongst friends and family.

Also known as Deepavali, literally meaning “row of lamps”, the day is celebrated for victory of good over evil within an individual. The day also marks the day Lord Rama returned after 14 years of exile.

“It means to light yourself from within and keep away from impurities,” said Bhesham, a 35-year-old shopkeeper at Super Market.

Bhesham runs a handicraft shop with his brother Suresh Kumar and cousin Santosh.

“It is the day of lights and sweets with celebrations at night. We light clay lamps, candles and burst crackers to keep the evil away,” said Bhesham.

The Hindu community in Islamabad is small: almost 20 families, most of them living in F-6, according to Bhesham.

Ritik, Santosh’s son, was also in the shop in school uniform. He said excitedly, “Tomorrow I will [take a day off] and celebrate and burst crackers till late at night.”

Santosh added that on this special night they note down the prices of wheat, rice, cotton and gold. “The purpose is to remember the dearness [of these goods] and do Laxmi puja to the goddess of wealth,” he said.

Lakshmi puja involves people putting small oil lamps outside their homes on Diwali in the hope that Lakshmi will come to bless them.

All three had good things to say about their Muslim friends and neighbours.  “They are very cordial and friendly and greet us on Holi and other such occasions with affection,” they said.

All is not well here

While the Hindus in Islamabad, unlike the rest of the country, have had little problems with Muslims, there are still things that they yearn for: such as a temple for worshipping.

“The Muslims have their mosques to worship, Christians have churches but we Hindus [in Islamabad] have no place to gather and celebrate and worship on our holy occasions,” said Suresh, who lives in Islamabad.

He said currently there are two temples in Islamabad, one at Saidpur Village and the other at Rawal Dam.

The Saidpur temple has been turned into a tourist and the Rawal Dam temple is in litigation, with Hindus not allowed access to it, he added. The Rawal Dam temple is also in bad condition, and while a number calls for its maintenance have been made, little has been done.

Paul Bhatti, Advisor to PM on Interfaith Harmony, however denied having received any applications for the temple’s construction or repossession. “We are in contact with some pundits of Islamabad but they haven’t raised such a demand,” Bhatti said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (6)

  • LuvPak!
    Nov 14, 2012 - 6:49AM

    Let them then to celebrate in public places like stadiums, convention centers, parks, city halls, school & college fields. It’s a right of any group who has religious celebration to be able to rent, book or freely use one of such places, and the community govt pick the cost. They should be allowed to even fabricate a religious resemblance for education, pleasure and devotion purposes. In the backdrop of the spread of violent extremist culture we must not let any opportunity pass us by without exposing the public to learning about tolerance and diversity.

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  • RKM
    Nov 14, 2012 - 1:31PM

    I was highly surprised in my recent visit to Islamabad when I wanted to visit a temple and was informed that there is no temple in Islamabad. I mean, in a capital city there should be worship places for all religions to be the symbol of harmony. There was one very old mandir in Saidpur village in Islamabad, which they converted in to museum and have locked the door of other Gurudwara next to the museum. Even Dubai is constructing state of art Gurudwara for Hindus and Sikhs.

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  • Sahara
    Nov 14, 2012 - 5:40PM

    Wow, only 20 hindus in islamadad? Shocking.

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  • ali
    Nov 14, 2012 - 5:47PM

    Very Good Story, i think ET got another good reporter in Islo

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  • Cynical
    Nov 30, 2012 - 4:20PM

    God is everywhere. One can pray, worship, celebrate at home. No need for a special place.Recommend

  • beylal
    Dec 16, 2012 - 6:02PM

    Its a religious but a ethnic factor too!
    Most hindus (95%) in pakistan are sindhis.
    Sindhis in islamabad made up 1% in 1998 census.. hindus around 0.08%.
    Now the numbers have increased along with %.
    Sindhis have started going to islamabad so have hindus !!
    Sindhis might now make up 3% of islu …Living scattered in different areas !!
    Most i know live in F-6 sector !!\
    Even though there should at least be one temple for hindus !

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