Hindus celebrated their religious festival of Holi across Hazara division on Sunday, but not without fear of more violence following the incident in Larkana, Sindh.
The day started with the worship of Lord Krishna in every household. Things took on a brighter turn later in the day when Hindu adults and children alike revelled in the traditional ‘colour fight’, which ensued after breaking the gharoli (a pitcher-sized utensil carrying colours) – another religious ritual. Women, men and children wore colourful dresses and sprayed each other with coloured water, chanting, “Holi ayi, Holi ayi” (Holi is here, Holi is here).
Sweets, especially prepared for the festival, were distributed among all neighbours, irrespective of their religious beliefs.
According to Darshan Lal Pujari, the caretaker of Shiv Temple Chiti Gati Gandiyan, worshipers from Abbottabad and Mansehra came to the temple and doused the idols with colourful water to mark the arrival of spring.
They then offered prayers for the prosperity of Pakistan and promotion of interfaith harmony.
“Although, the Larkana incident was a matter of concern for us, the cooperation of local Muslims and assurances of security by the police allowed us to enjoy the festival like we always have,” added Pujari.
A group attacked and set a Hindu dharmshala at Royal Chowk, Larkana on fire early Sunday morning; an apparent reaction to the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran by a drug addict.
Holi delayed in the provincial capital
In Peshawar, Holi will be celebrated on Tuesday at Kalibari Temple in Cantonment area.
After 19-year-old Radaish Chand Chohan, son of a Hindu elder Umar Chand Chohan, died of jaundice on Sunday; the burning of a temple in Larkana; the killing of a Sikh in Charsadda; and kidnapping of two others in DI Khan, Hindus in the walled city have decided to celebrate the event only at the temple.
“We want to convey a message to the world to take steps for the rights of Hindus here,” said Haroon Sarbdiyal, chairman of the All Pakistan Human Right Movement. “If a single person has committed a crime, the whole community should not be punished for it.”
“An impartial investigation should be held on the Larkana issue and those responsible should be given exemplary punishment,” said another Hindu elder.
Sarbdiyal shared a simple celebration will be held at Kali Barri Temple on March 18 to mark the occasion. “As it is a festival of love and friendship, we are ready to send a message of love and friendship for all,” he added.
Last year, Holi was not celebrated in the city due to rampant bomb blasts. This year, people are worried and scared after the Larkana incident and are not willing to gather at the temple. Sarbdiyal complained the provincial government has not provided the required security for Holi.
“The historical temple at Gor Gathri has been left at the mercy of one private servant, while the other three temples in different parts of the city are also without any proper security,” worried Ramlal, another Hindu elder.
Holi takes origin from Multan, the centre of Sufism, and pious for both the Hindus and Sikhs, claimed Ramlal.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2014.