Lahore, Aug 18: Notwithstanding the strenuous relations between Pakistan and India, Muslims and Hindus of Lahore celebrated the festival of Rakshabandhan with gusto. This underlined the fact that Rakshabandhan is the universal festival of humanity.
The festival was celebrated for the first time by the Hindus in the public while many Muslims helped in the preparation of this festival.
They also signed a statement decrying religious hatred and taking a vow to protect ‘our multiculturalism’.
According to reports around 1000 people including Muslims and Hindus celebrated the festival ofRakshabandhan tying the sacred thread to each other. To the surprise of the organisers, there was an enthusiastic response from the people of different faiths.
AsiaNews reported that one Taimur Rahman, a Muslim and famous musician and activist for human rights, was at the event. After receiving a Rakhi from a Hindu boy, he began playing Sufi music with his band, for the hundreds of people present in the room. "So far I had only seen this in movies - he says - and this is the first time I have ever received a Rakhi. I was moved. Now it is our responsibility to stand up for the rights of those who have chosen us as friends now".
The activist explains: "Our society is infected by extremism. Hindus and Christians are threatened not only by terrorists but also by most of the society. For decades our band has promoted the Sufis struggle for in favor of human rights and opposition to extremism".
Wednesday's event was organized by the Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) in collaboration with the Hindu Sudhar Sabha (HSS) movement. Hindus were surprised when many young Muslims offered to be volunteers for the festival. At the end of the day, all participants signed a declaration: "We, the signatories, are committed towards our brothers of different religions and ethnic minorities. We are united against violence, discrimination and spreading of hatred in the name of religion”.
Kundnani Aroon Kumar, General Secretary of HSS, says that usually "we Hindus celebrate our feasts in the temples, with a select audience. Confidentiality is vital in these difficult times when for example in the province of Sindh many Hindu girls are forcibly converted. "Over the past two years, adds, "10 thousand Hindu families have been forced to migrate to India. In Lahore, the wall of one of our temples was demolished to make way for a new railway. Only two out of 12 places of worship are active in the city".
During the Seeda Deep celebration, the Muslim activist and founder of the IPSS, tied a Rakhi to Khalil Tahir Sindhu's wrist, she is the Minister for Minorities in Punjab and also a Christian. "Unfortunately, the tensions between India and Pakistan - says the woman - have made the life of the Hindus here very insecure. Today we participated in this event to honour their tenacity and to join in their joy. We must protect our multiculturalism”. (Additional inputs from agencies)