Thursday April 25, 2024

Triumph over evil

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
March 02, 2018

There are a vast number of religious festivals that are observed according to the Hindu lunar calendar. Holi is one such sacred event that is widely celebrated across the globe with gusto. Also known as the ‘festival of colours’, it is celebrated at the arrival of the spring season on a full moon day falling in the month of Phalguna, normally between February and March.

Holi is considered to be one of the oldest festivals of human civilisation. On the occasion, people drench each other in colours as an expression of happiness and joy. Like many other festivals, Holi also serves as a moral lesson about the victory of good over evil. According to the ancient Hindu tradition, Holi is associated with the legend of a king named Hiranyakashipu.

The king was granted special powers. But he expected people to worship him. The cruel king even ordered the killing of his own son Prahalad because he was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. With the support of his sister Holika, the king plotted to burn Prahalad. The plan failed as the fire engulfed Holika instead of Prahalad. Holika’s defeat reflects that evil is always vanquished.

The celebration of Holi emphasises the firm belief that God is great. The power of evil appears to be strong but good people always defeat them. It also teaches that a ruler should use his powers for the betterment of the people rather than to suppress them.

Holi is also attributed to Lord Krishna and Radha. On the occasion, the Hindu community rejoices over the arrival of spring. Special dishes are prepared in every home and people recite holy verses in honour of Lord Krishna and Radha. Celebrations are organised in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, South Africa and in many Western countries, including Britain and the US.

The world has witnessed many conflicts between good and evil, which have existed from the day one. But good always triumphs over evil. Similarly, people with good intentions may have to face immense difficulties and hurdles in life. But if they keep a positive approach they can never be defeated by negativity.

It is a historical fact that the Subcontinent, before the arrival of the British, was the best example of religious harmony. People from diverse backgrounds lived happily and respected each other’s religions. Traditionally, the festivals were also celebrated together. In the cultural traditions of Muslims of the Subcontinent, Lucknow holds a special status. Holi has also been celebrated jointly for many centuries. Many prominent Muslim poets like Mir Taqi Mir, Hasrat Mohani, Josh Malihabadi, Khawaja Haider Ali Aatish, Wajid Ali Shah Akhtar, Insha Allah Khan Insha, Sagar Khayami and Nazir Khayami have written favourably about the festival.

Hindus constitute the largest non-Muslim community in Pakistan. A majority of Hindus is settled in Sindh – the land of the sufis, saints and sadhus. In 1947, when there was hate everywhere, it was only in Sindh that peace prevailed. In response to Quaid-e-Azam’s August 11 speech, patriotic Hindu citizens declared Pakistan their beloved motherland – ‘dharti mata’. Even today, the community is striving to play its due role in the development and progress of Pakistan despite all the suffering it has endured.

There is no doubt that a few extremist elements in our society want to disturb the peace of the entire country. But the Hindu community is on their hit-list in particular. Forced conversions of underage Hindu girls; kidnappings; attacks on temples; encroachment of holy places; and the dissemination of hate material through the school curricula are a few examples. After 70 years of independence, evil forces are still active. They either want to create internal anarchy through terrorism or undermine the country’s image at the international level by having Pakistan added to Pakistan watch lists.

On the other hand, successful military offensives like Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the Rangers operation in Karachi and Operation Raddul Fasaad have once again proved that good always wins over evil. To counter international conspiracies, we have to ensure unity and harmony within our ranks. For this purpose, Holi celebrations can play a pivotal role. Rather than dividing society, we should spread the message of love, humanity and brotherhood. I have also tried to introduce legislation in parliament to declare Holi a national holiday. We must understand the true spirit of Holi.

To establish a tolerant, positive and pluralist society, I appeal, on behalf of the Pakistan Hindu Council, to all peace-loving citizens to celebrate Holi together. This gesture will help promote positive moral values in our beloved country.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of thePakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani