Scores of Muslims, Sikhs and Christians joined Hindus to commemorate Diwali in the city on late Saturday night.
Guru Gorakhnath Temple was alight with celebration on Saturday night as a large number of Hindus arrived at the venue to offer their prayers and perform a series of rituals. They were accompanied by people from different faiths who were shown around the 17th century temple and told about the religious and cultural aspects of the festival of light.
Young people performed garba and dandiya dances after what appears to be a gap of several years. Participants exchanged gifts and offered special prayers to ensure peace and stability in the country and promote inter-faith harmony.
Diwali is celebrated in autumn every year. The preparations for and rituals associated with the festival are typically extended over a five-day period. The main night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month of Kartika.
Every year, an event is organised in the city to commemorate the festival. However, this year, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were especially invited to partake in the festivities.
Message of peace
“The occasion marks the beginning of the Hindu new year,” said Kaka Ram, a Hindu elder, whose family is the custodian of Guru Gorakhnath Temple. “It emphasises the power of creating light over darkness in the world. As a result, our message of love and peace is for all and is not limited only to Hindus.”
According to Ram, Diwali brings people together and helps you connect with your friends and loved ones.
“This year, we have invited people from other religions to partake in our happiness,” he said. “People from other cities such as Rawalpindi, Mardan and Nowshera also participated in the festivities.
Padri Hashmat, who attended the event said Diwali spreads the message of peace and love for all.
“Non-Muslims in the region are completely free to follow their religion and culture without any persecution,” he said.
Charanjeet Singh, a prominent Sikh elder, said the Pakistan Council for World Religion helped organise the event to bring representatives from all religions on the same page. Singh added this year’s Diwali festivities promoted religious harmony and removed the looming security fears which Hindus in the city are faced with every year.
All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement Chairman Haroon Sarbdiyal informed participants about the cultural and religious aspects of Diwali.
“This is the first time in the history of the city that Diwali has been celebrated with people of various religious persuasions,” said Sarbdiyal. “It is also the first time we have observed Diwali by adhering to all cultural festivities.”
Amid tight security
The festival was celebrated amid tight security. All roads leading to Gor Gathri were closed and guests and participants were only allowed entry after a thorough body search. The presence of ANP Central General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain compelled security forces to implement foolproof security measure.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
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