Like other parts of world, the festival of Holi was celebrated in Pakistan with the spirit of love, humanity, respect and happiness. Also known as the festival of colours, it is associated with the celebrations of the arrival of the spring.
Holi is considered one of the most important events in the Hindu religion, followed by Diwali. The event reminds of the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. The legend of Prahlad emphasises trust in God.
The Pakistan Hindu Council this year decided to celebrate Holi in a unique way, dedicating Holi to Pakistan Day in memory of the historical Lahore Jalsa, held on March 23, 1940. In the context of recent Pakistan-India tensions, the managing committee also passed unanimous resolution to condemn Indian aggression and to show solidarity with the brave armed forces.
Responding to the call by the Pakistan Hindu Council, the patriotic Hindu community actively participated in the mega colourful event of Holi at Hanuman Temple, Karachi, which was decorated with Pakistani flags and Hindu religious flags side by side.
Traditionally, the most senior person of the family used to throw colour to inaugurate the festival. Being patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, I was obliged to perform the inauguration. A one-minute silence and prayers for departed souls of the New Zealand terror victims were also ensured.
At Hanuman Temple, the Pakistani flag was raised with due honour and dignity. After the national anthem, Hindu children presented patriotic songs. A video documentary was also shown to recall the outstanding speech of Quaid-e-Azam on August 11, 1947. The founder of Pakistan had assured religious freedom to every Pakistani national, regardless of his/her religious affiliation. Special prayers for peace and prosperity of our beloved Pakistan were also held.
During my speech, I emphasised that Quaid-e-Azam wanted to transform Pakistan into a role model Muslim majority country, where non-Muslims would enjoy equal civic rights. That is why our elders, like JogandraNath Mandal, whole-heartedly supported the Pakistan Movement. A large number of non-Muslim politicians were all present in the March 23 Jalsa to support the demand for Pakistan.
Such non-Muslim activists, including Diwan Bahadur Sittia Parkash Singha, Rajkumari Amrit , Chandu Lal, CE Gibbon, Alfried Purshad , E Chaudary and SS Albert, were of the view that the independent state of Pakistan would be in a better position to protect the rights of minorities on the basis of the Charter of Madina. Therefore, on the occasion of Holi, we lauded the tireless positive contributions of all legends of Pakistan Movement.
I feel honour that our elders, in response of Quaid-e-Azam’s appeal, decided to declare Pakistan their beloved motherland (dharti mata), instead of migrating from here. Even today, the patriotic and peace-loving Hindu community is playing a pivotal role for the betterment of the entire Pakistani society.
This year, we celebrated the Holi festival with the ideology that a person having strong faith in God must not give up against powerful powers. My visit to neighbouring country India, even at the peak time of the Indo-Pak tussle, also reflected that we must keep struggling to achieve regional peace in the best interest of people of both sides. The good gesture, in response to Indian aggression, shows that the political and military leaderships of Pakistan are on one page to ensure regional peace and stability.
Evil powers, in the shape of non-state actors in both countries, must not be allowed to sabotage the entire peace process. The peace-loving Pakistani Hindu community, while celebrating Holi, also urged Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to get rid of negativity and follow the Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of Ahimsa. According to Hinduism, a true ruler must safeguard the lives of the public, instead of leading towards destruction and anarchy.
Historically, the Indian subcontinent, before the arrival of British imperialism, was a role model for interfaith harmony. Regardless of faith, people used to celebrate each other’s festivals. Respect to all religions is also common teaching of every religion. Therefore, I believe that celebrating Holi together can bring people of different faiths closer. I am grateful to all participants and media representatives who presented the soft face of our beloved country.
We must understand that the actual concept behind celebrating Holi is not just throwing colours but breaking the ice to bring people of diverse backgrounds closer. Holi festivities must be utilised to convey a message of universal brotherhood and interfaith harmony.
The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.