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Friday, August 22, 2014

Pakistan’s Hindu Temples

www.Foundation for Pluralism.com
URL - http://foundationforpluralism.blogspot.com/2014/08/pakistans-hindu-temples.html

It is always a joy for me to see when people learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, when we do that, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.  Here at this site, foundation for pluralism, y0u will find articles that give  hope.

ver  20 years of Pluralism studies has allowed me to confidently assert that Pluralism is respecting the otherness of others and is the basis of every religious teaching, and without a doubt, a majority of people get their religion right but the insecure one's don't, they live in the arrogance that theirs is superior -religion is meant to make you humble and not arrogant, arrogance kills relationships and is the source of conflicts, where as humility is the cure.  The way to build better societies is to stand up for the rights of each other,  (http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/04/standing-with-hindus.html ) and at the end, every one is better off.

If we work on making everyone's  lives better we will achieve a lot more than accusing, blaming and cursing the others. Of course, law and order is the first requirement of any society to function effectively,  and it is the responsibility for safe societies falls squarely on the majority population of the state, any state. Safety of minorities is directly proportionate to the civility of the society.

Thank you.

Mike Ghouse

Pakistan’s Hindu Temples

Hindu devotees inside the Sri Laxmi Narain Temple in Karachi, Pakistan
Madiha Aijaz
The partitioning of the subcontinent in 1947 led to the migration of millions of Hindus and Muslims who left behind homes, livelihoods and places of worship.

A new book “Historic Temples in Pakistan: A Call to Conscience” by Reema Abbasi looks at the remaining Hindu temples in Pakistan, some of which have become casualties of the conflict between India and Pakistan.

In 1992, a Hindu mob destroyed the 16th-century Babri Masjid in the pilgrimage town of Ayodhya in northern India. Pakistani Muslims reacted by attacking temples across their country. It was “a time that erased over 1,000 historic temples from Pakistan’s landscape,” Ms. Abbasi writes in her new book released last month.

But there are signs of hope, says the author. The book traces the history of more than 40 of Pakistan’s roughly 500 Hindu holy sites in Pakistan, concentrating on the most active and most-visited shrines.
Ms. Abbasi spoke to The Wall Street Journal during her recent trip to the Indian capital.
Edited excerpts.
Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple, believed to have been built around 1,500 years ago, in Karachi, Pakistan.
Madiha Aijaz
The Wall Street Journal: Why did you decide to write this book?

Reema Abbasi: It seemed like everyone in India I met thought there were no temples left in Pakistan. People from all walks of life: Muslims, Hindus, people who are very enlightened, very clued in. I found that so hard to believe because how do you wipe out such ancient buildings and beliefs? It’s like me thinking there are no mosques in India. I was actually really taken aback and that gave me that push [to do this book].

Also, the perception about Pakistan had to be addressed. There’s a lot of sensationalism in the media about the country. This book has recorded real incidents of harmony and unity. I think it is a celebration of shared history and shared people between Pakistan and India. But at the same time I haven’t whitewashed the problem areas.

WSJ: Most Pakistani Hindus live in Sindh province in the south. There are numerous temples there where they can practice their religion openly. The same applies in other parts of Pakistan, but not in Punjab. Why?

Ms. Abbasi: I found Punjab tragic. It was really very sad, the burden of false identity there after the conversion from Hinduism to other religions. The burden of false identity has got to be the heaviest one where you can’t come out and tell everyone who you really are and you have to practice your religion covertly.

Lahore now has only two Hindu shrines. The small Balmiki Temple is being run and maintained by people who have converted and on record are Christian. They are aware that their temple, which has been their shelter and their place of belonging for generations, is going to die with them. They know their customs won’t continue and their children are reluctant to take it forward. Those aging men, I felt their pain.
In Lahore there are now only 35 Hindu families remaining, all living under disguise. If there are more, we don’t know. Most Hindus have left the city. They have experienced tremendous discrimination.
Lahore was one of the last places we visited so just at the tail end of everything being positive, you are hit by this boulder. Fear was where I least expected, in Lahore, in a beautiful city shaped over time by multiple religions.

WSJ: Tell me about the sites you visited.

Ms. Abbasi: The first site we covered was the Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple in Karachi, which is 500-years-old. In the book, we document over 40 antiquated, active sites. Some of them are really, really ancient. In some cases, we went to sites based on certain accounts and found nothing was there because of disuse or disrepair–maybe the remains of an ancient pillar, but that’s it.

Most places did bear the brunt of mob fury after the Babri Masjid incident, but in many instances renovation work has occurred and is ongoing, but of course that can never match the ancient craftsmanship.

WSJ: You write about meeting Muslims at some of the Hindu temples you visited. Did that surprise you?

Ms. Abbasi: So many people would say when we went to visit a site that this is so ancient it can only be the home of god. There’s reverence attached to the history that comes with it.

It seems these sites have transcended all faiths and that’s why often Muslims go to these sites in the belief that something that is so ancient, with such mystique, pulls people and keeps them coming back.
Some go for blessings; others believe it’s a place that should be respected for all that it has seen.

WSJ: Some say Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws interfere with the practices of minority faiths. Would you agree?

Ms. Abbasi: No, I don’t. It’s a very sensitive topic and the blasphemy laws are not really part of my chronicle, but I don’t think they are targeting any faith. Neither is there government prejudice against minorities. If there was, my work would have been hugely hindered. Instead, it was welcomed.
Atish Patel is a multimedia journalist based in Delhi. You can follow him on Twitter @atishpatel.

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