Maha Shivratri: Delegation of yatrees awed by Pakistan welcome

Published: February 27, 2014
Yatrees enter Pakistan via Wagah border. PHOTO: SHAFIQ MALIK / EXPRESS

Yatrees enter Pakistan via Wagah border. PHOTO: SHAFIQ MALIK / EXPRESS


“We have received a lot of love here,” Aruna Gupta said.  Somehow, the exhaustion of having travelled by foot across the border to Pakistan from India seems lesser, as the happy pilgrim thanked the Pakistan government for giving them special care. She doesn’t feel unsafe.

A group of the 158-member Hindu yatrees (pilgrims) from different cities of India arrived here in Pakistan through Wagah border on foot. After their stay at Gurdawara Dera Sahib in Lahore, they will visit Katasraj, a complex of ancient Hindu temples situated in Katas village of Chakwal district, to perform religious rituals. At the Katasraj, the Indian yatrees will offer special pooja (prayer) on the eve of Maha Shivratri, the night of the worship of Lord Shiva which occurs between the 13th and 14th of the month of Phalguna or Maagh, according to the Hindu calendar in the Krishna Paksha.

This year, Maha Shivratri will be celebrated on Thursday February 27, with all temples being decorated in colourful ways. The Hindu yatrees from Lahore, Sialkot, Narowal, Rawalpindi, Rahimyar Khan and some parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh are also reaching Katasraj to celebrate the sacred occasion at this holy place of the Sanatan Dharma, considered one of the world’s oldest religions.

“In Pakistan, people do have the liberty to perform religious rituals and places of worship like churches, temples and gurdwaras are secure,” said Amarnath Randhawa, a local Hindu leader who is heading a 40 member delegation of yatrees from Lahore. Appreciating arrangements of the Evacuee Trust Property Board, he said that Hindus will pray for peace and prosperity in Pakistan after their pooja at the sacred temple complex. “Pakistan is our country and we always pray for it,” he said.

Last year, around 200 Indian yatrees celebrated the Maha Shivratri at the Katasraj which houses the Satgraha, a group of seven ancient temples, remains of a Buddhist place of meditation, a few medieval temples, havelis and some recently-constructed temples, scattered around a pond considered holy by Hindus.

On Maha Shivratri, people often fast on the night of Shivratri and sing hymns of praise in the name of Lord Shiva, said Heera Lal, a 60-year-old Hindu citizen from Lahore who is also ready to go to Katasraj.

Amarnath told The Express Tribune that Hindus offer night-long prayers on Maha Shivratri. “Very early morning, devotees flock to Shiva temples to perform the traditional Shivalinga worship and hence hope for favours from the Lord,” he said. On this eve, devotees bathe at sunrise, preferably with water from a holy water source like Gangajal or Katasjal. “This is a rite of purification, which is an important part of all Hindu festivals,” he said. Wearing clean clothing after Ashnan (the holy bath), worshippers carry pots of water to the temple to bathe the Shivalinga, he added.

R P Bhardwaj, who heads the Indian delegation, said on arrival that they had brought with them the message of peace, tolerance, coexistence and brotherhood from India. “I believe that people-to-people contact will promote peace and harmony between Pakistan and India,” he said, adding that the exchange of groups especially pilgrims, would provide a step forward in the peace process between the two neighbouring countries.

“We always want to come to Katasraj. We thank Bhagwan that we will be able to go on Shivratri,” said Manjana Sarandas, an Indian yatree. She also said that she is happy to be in Pakistan. “We always pray for peace and prosperity for people on both sides of the border,” said Santosh Kumar, another yatree. He pointed out that there would be thousands of pilgrims from India if visa restrictions are eased. “This journey will have a lasting spiritual impact on me,” he said.

Raj Kumari, a senior citizen from Lahore, told The Express Tribune that she will reach the Katasraj on Thursday along with the delegation. “This will be my fifth visit to Katasraj,” she said.

The Indian yatrees will return to their homeland through the Wagah border on March 3 after their seven-day stay in Pakistan.


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Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Professor
    Feb 27, 2014 - 10:43AM

    Nice, heart-warming story ET !!


  • vasan
    Feb 27, 2014 - 10:46AM

    Thank you Pakistanis. Very kind of you to allow Indians to Katasraj temples and very kind of you to take care of them. Hope to visit these temples sometime in future.


  • Ali
    Feb 27, 2014 - 12:01PM

    Warm Welcome to the Pilgrims from India


  • Arshad Khan
    Feb 27, 2014 - 1:07PM

    A very warm welcome to the Yatrees to Pakistan. May their wishes be fulfilled . Their pilgrimage to ancient religious sites will rejuvenate the feeling of peaceful coexistence between the two countries.
    Pakistan has shown a good gesture and it should be appreciated by all Muslims in Pakistan. May the ancient history of both countries unite both in spirit at least. Recommend

  • Feb 27, 2014 - 1:36PM

    Well,500 years before ,you all pakistani used to celebrate Mahashivratri, But now since their ancestors sold out their souls in fear of death ,they consider themselves Native of Arabs .


  • Doesanyoneknow?
    Feb 27, 2014 - 2:25PM

    Shivalinga means the special part of Shiva.. they worship that…


  • Stranger
    Feb 27, 2014 - 2:41PM

    Nice to hear such stories.


  • rasgullah
    Feb 27, 2014 - 6:17PM

    Just shows your rabid thoughts and why your countries are in such strife that you seek asylum in other countries.


  • Azmat Khan
    Feb 27, 2014 - 8:02PM

    @vasan: You are most welcomed.Come to Pakistan.Do not worry, we will take every care of you.We want to live good neighbourly with you.We lived together for centuries.We can live like good neighbours now.Why not?


  • Azmat Khan
    Feb 27, 2014 - 8:04PM

    @Arshad Khan: Very good Arshad Khan


  • Azmat Khan
    Feb 27, 2014 - 8:19PM

    @Akela: I remember that pre partition when i was very young my older cousins used to celebrate Diwali with their Hindu friends in our nearby Hindu village whole night.They used to carry gifts for their Hindu friends and brought back sweets from them next morning.We all lived peacefully together.We all had love and respect for one another.Thank you ET,please carry on such reporting, you are doing a wonderful job.


  • Raj - USA
    Feb 27, 2014 - 10:33PM

    @Azmat Khan:
    It is great to see good hearts like you. I appreciate your comment very much.

    It is a great gesture from Pakistani Muslims. It is heartfelt and heartwarming.


  • Rakib
    Feb 28, 2014 - 8:00AM

    @Azmat Khan: (We all lived peacefully together.We all had love and respect for one another.)

    Bravo, Azmat Khan! May you live long & live well.

    Kucch Ramzan pehley in aankhon ke aage ky kya na nazare guzare tthe
    Kya roshani ho jati thi galee jab yaar hamare guzare tthe.

    Voh kitne acche log tthe jinko apne gham se fursat tthi,
    Jo poochte tthe jab koi dard ka maara guzara ttha..

    (“Voh Daur” by Faiz Ahmad Faiz)

    There were days when many a spectacle passed before my eyes
    Then my street lit up when my beloved happened to pass by;

    How good were people who had time to think of others’ woes,
    They had time to ask them how they coped with their sorrows…


  • abhishek pareek
    Mar 20, 2014 - 3:15PM

    In the End, all we want is to be loved, and to be needed.
    What we got from death of millions during independence, it solved nothing. There are same problems on both side of the land. I have been a regular reader of ET. and keep reading the comments as well, and to my surprise there is huge similarities in the though process of India and Pakistan. The nation which was created to protect “ISLAM”(as if 51 other Islamic countries were not protecting islam enough), is now shifting towards civil war, because a group of people believe that “their kind of Islam” is “right islam”.
    66 Years ago Pakistan started from “Our religion is PAK(holy) than yours”, and now you have achieved “My type of ISLAM is better than yours”.
    The partition and continuous conflicts between created greats rifts, and encouraged the hindu-muslim rift, i wonder if we were a united nation, would their be any such thing existing or we were a united “QAUM”, full of patriotism and respecting each other. instead now hindu temples are being burnt in pakistan. Few morons look at muslims in india with suspicion, and harm them sometimes and few other morons in pakistan want to utilize this situation to further intensify such tensions.
    Where it all leads.. and what we have achieved/ what we aspire to achieve is a big question.


  • abhishek pareek
    Mar 20, 2014 - 3:16PM

    good to see such stories..


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