Xari Jalil – Published: Dawn November 3, 2013
LAHORE, Nov 2: Bright colours were spread out on the floor to create flowery motifs within circles and small candles basking in clay pots lit the corridor of a local hotel as Lahores Hindus gathered together for a celebration on the second day of Diwali.
The event was organized by the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies. Diep Syeda from IPSS said that the event’s location had been purposely kept strictly private because they had been getting threats from radical elements after a piece advertised the upcoming event.
“Because of this we have had to do this in a private gathering. We intend to celebrate Christmas also in the same way because all around us there is growing intolerance where religious minorities are concerned, but we have to find a way to protect them especially their right to celebrate their festivals.”
Amarnath Randhawa, one of the Hindus at the event, said the security threats were always a pressing matter that nagged them at events such as these. “Other than that we usually have no space to celebrate. Our houses are too small to accommodate such huge celebrations, so doing this at a local hotel is a better idea.”
According to Diep, there are only about 50 Hindus in Lahore, or about three or four families in total. Many of the Hindus who used to reside have shifted to more ‘Hindu-friendly’ areas such as South Punjab and Sindh, where more from their community reside.
During the ‘pooja’ or worship, the Pandit present at the occasion prayed for a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan, where interfaith peace was at the forefront and the issue of terrorism had been dealt with. — Xari Jalil