The Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) organised a special Diwali celebration on Tuesday night at the centuries-old Shri Varun Dev Mandir on the Manora Island of Karachi.
The event was also attended by Muslim civil society members, political activists and human rights defenders. The participants departed for the island in three vessels from the Karachi Port Trust to celebrate Diwali at the historical temple.
After they reached there, a large number of Hindu community members, including religious and political leaders of the community, offered special prayers for the prosperity of Pakistan, and for unity and peace in the country.
Following the prayers, PHC patron-in-chief and MNA Dr Ramesh Vankwani and Commodore Muhammad Khalid talked to the media. Vankwani said they celebrated Diwali at the Varun Mandir to pray for the country’s prosperity since the temple is devoted to the gods of occasions and sun.
“The purpose of holding a Diwali celebration here was to offer a special prayer for Pakistan’s prosperity and security on the occasion of the solar eclipse.” He said the Hindu community is also an integral part of Pakistan. “We want to show the world that there are no restrictions on practising our religion. Every minority group here is free to practise their faith,” he added.
“This was also the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who wanted to establish such an exemplary country where no one could face discrimination on the basis of religion.” The lawmaker said the temple was handed over to the PHC some two decades ago. Since the restoration work was completed, the Hindu community regularly attends their religious events here, he added.
He demanded that the temples and other worship places belonging to the Hindu community and other minorities be restored so that all the groups can freely practise their respective faiths.
Commodore Khalid said Pakistan’s minorities have complete freedom to celebrate their festivals. He said that an example of interfaith harmony is the Manora Island, where a number of churches, gurdwaras, temples and mosques were built centuries ago. “We want to ensure interfaith harmony among all communities, as diversity is Pakistan’s real beauty.” Talking to The News, a number of the participants expressed their happiness upon visiting their historical temple for Diwali there. The celebration concluded with music and spectacular fireworks.
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