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No roadside Iftar by Sikhs in Peshawar this year


May 12, 2019

PESHAWAR: As different organisations and individuals continue to arrange food and drinks for fasting Muslims in the provincial capital and elsewhere, the Peshawarites are missing the traditional dastarkhwan by Sikh community members who had been hosting Iftar for the faithful throughout Ramazan for the last many years.

For the first time in many years, the Sikh community members in Peshawar are not hosting roadside Iftar dinner for Muslims. Instead, they provided ration to orphanages and charities.

“This time we are not arranging the roadside Iftars but our members have provided ration to different charity organizations,” Baba Gurpal Singh, a leader of the Sikh community, told The News. He added that they were asked not to arrange these “Iftar dastarkhwans” due to certain threats.

He reminded that Sadar Charanjeet Singh, who was killed last year was one of the main people behind arranging Iftar dinners. “However, we will continue to serve humanity in whatever way we can to spread love and peace,” added Baba Gurpal Singh.

The members of the Sikh community had been serving food, chilled drinks and snacks to hundreds of Muslims at the roadside “dastarkhwans” in different parts of Peshawar for the last many years. The roadside meals used to be arranged for almost the whole holy month. Apart from labourers and other needy people, passersby used to get food at these dastarkhwans.

The tradition was appreciated all over the country and in many parts of the world as an excellent gesture of interfaith harmony. The pictures of young and old Sikhs welcoming everyone arriving at Iftar dastarkhwan with a smile and serving them with a glass of chilled lassi, sharbat, fruit and cooked food were posted in the mainstream and social media all over the world.

Muslims and Sikhs enjoy cordial relations in Peshawar and in many other cities of the country for decades.

Khurshid Khan, a senior lawyer from Peshawar, used to visit the places of worship of Sikhs in past years to clean their shoes and place them in the racks to promote interfaith harmony. His gesture was widely lauded.

With the start of the holy month, a number of people have started arranging roadside Iftar in Peshawar and all over the country where passersby, labourers and others come in the evening to have drinks and food to break their fast.

Many young men have arranged Iftars in Hayatabad, University Road, Saddar Bazaar, Bara Road, Kohat Road, Charsadda Road, Ring Road GT Road, inner city and other places where thousands of people are provided free food and drinks daily.

A non-governmental organization, Darmaan provided food to around 500 people daily.

“Darmaan was founded five years ago from a single dastarkhwan which turned into a concept and idea for many youth across Pakistan. Darmaan has served over 500,000 people in the past five years, encouraging the concept of dastarkhwan and mobile food delivery in hospitals, jails and at footpaths,” Saud Shah Roghani, a young man running Darmaan, told The News. He said the plan is to spread the dastarkhwan to many other cities of the country in the coming days.

Serve Mankind, a group of youth led by Asad Ali Lodhi, the main person behind the idea of Wall of Kindness, also arranges food for hundreds of people in Hayatabad and other parts of the provincial capital daily. “Serve Mankind Dastarkhwan is organized on a daily basis. Now everyone can be part of this noble campaign where you can bring your meal for those who need it the most and volunteer at dastarkhwan,” said Asad Ali Lodhi.

The youth in Peshawar introduced a number of novel ideas in recent years to serve the needy. They introduced Wall of Kindness to provide warm clothes and launched Happiness Box and Korba refrigerator to provide food to labourers and other deserving people.

Many of these initiatives, however, could not be continued for long due to different reasons. “The ideas like Korba, Happiness Box and more need to continue throughout the year to provide food to the needy people,” commented a Peshawar resident Imtiaz Ahmad.