Hindu Combined Marriages

By : Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
Patron-in-chief, Pakistan Hindu Council
Member of National Assembly
WhatsApp: 0333-2277370
Twitter: @RVankwani

In the context of recently held Hindu Combined Marriages, my article published in The News (English), Jang (Urdu) and Ibrat (Sindhi) to highlight the socio-economic importance of mass weddings.

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Pakistan Hindus celebrate Diwali 2018 in Karachi

By : www.pakistanhinducouncil.org.pk.

Karwan Group organised the Diwali function supported by Pakistan Hindu Council on 10th November, 2018 at Global Marquee, Karachi. The event has the theme of Ramaiyn as Diwali is celebrated for the return of Lord Ram to Ayodha after 14 year of Banwas. The event was started by doing  Arti and then all religious tableau were followed. Mr. Kirshan Sagar (Representer Karwan Group) welcome the all bearers and members of Pakistan Hindu Council and appreciated the efforts of Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani and Mr. Gopal Khamuani for Hindus all over Sindh and other provinces.

He also appreciated the efforts of Ex-President Mr. Hotchand Karmani who have done wonderful work in his tenure. He further stated that it is our pleasure to have all the elders and minority representatives at one platform and i will try to organize such events more often so that our religious values, norms and our culture can be represented internationally. Dr. Ramesh (Patron-in-chief) also praised the efforts of Kirshan Lal for organizing such a wonderful event as he stated that Diwali is the day of lights but it is also the day when Truth became powerful over evil.

He said we should celebrated these events with interfaith harmony as we believe that as Eid is celebrated in the whole country unanimously so Diwali and Christmas should also be celebrated all over the country as we are all Pakistani first. The President Pakistan Hindu Council Mr. Gopal Khamuani also praised the efforts of organisers and said that these events are the representation of our religion. I am happy to see families coming for celebrating the Diwali and I wish these type of events will be organised in the future. In the end, all the guest and audience enjoyed the Soofi Kalam by the lady Singer.

 

 

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Potential of Faith Tourism in Pakistan

By : Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

There is no doubt that the economies of peace-loving countries in the modern era are heavily dependent on tourism. To attract international tourists, such countries tend to brand themselves as a tourism-friendly societies. It is, therefore, a good sign that Prime Minister Imran Khan mentioned the importance of promoting tourism in the country in his first speech to the nation.

In the top trends of international tourism, religious tourism holds a prominent place. According to a report, every year more than 300 million people visits different places all over the globe for religious purposes. This generates collective revenues of more than $18 billion annually.

Visionary leaderships engage universities to conduct research that can help formulate positive policies. Faith tourism also helps promote our local industries, people-to-people contact and cordial diplomatic relations.

Every year, many tourists reportedly visit the Philippines, which is a Catholic-majority Asian country. In order to increase the number of international tourists in subsequent years, the government of the Philippines is also focusing on religious tourism. The government is keen to seek the attention of international tourists through the popular religious festival of Sinulog.

One of the largest religious festivals of the world is India’s Kumbh Mela, which is attended by 10 million devotees. However, the most well-managed sacred festival is Haj.

A popular spot for religious tourism among people in America and other Western countries tourists is the historical city of Jerusalem. The followers of Islam, Christianity and Judaism frequently visit the city. A large number of Hindu pilgrims also visit River Ganga in India. Similarly, the shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer Sharif also attracts followers of various religions. Every day, almost 100,000 people visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Muslims pilgrims also travel to Iran, Iraq and Syria to visit their sacred places. Turkey also welcomes around 32 million international tourists every year. There are many places of religious importance in Turkey, which include mosques, monasteries and buildings constructed during the Ottoman Empire.

Pakistan also holds considerable importance for the followers of four major world religions: Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. The presence of Sufi shrines in Sindh reflects that those who speak the language of love never die. In fact, they live in people’s hearts forever.

The Hanglaj Temple, Katas Raj Temple, and Anandpur Temple are sacred places. Hindu pilgrims from India, America, and Canada used to visit them in Pakistan. The traces of the ancient Mohenjodaro and Gandhara civilisations also reflect the impact of Hinduism and Buddhism on the region.

Taxila also had historical importance during the era of Hindu emperor Chandragupta Maurya and also holds significance as a major site for learning in Buddhism. The great philosopher Chanakya was also a teacher at an ancient university in Taxila. Takht Bhai, another historical Buddhist site, is another attractive spot for tourists.

Similarly, Pakistan also hosts many sacred sites for the Sikh community, including Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, and the Samadhi of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.

The Bari Imam Shrine and Golra Sharif Shrine in the federal capital are teeming with visitors every day. An impressive religious gathering can be witnessed at the Raiwind Tableeghi Ijtemah. Without visiting Badshahi Masjid in Lahore and Faisal Masjid in Islamabad, an international tourist’s visit is considered incomplete.

We must think about why our country lags behind in terms of religious tourism even though it has so many important religious sites. Political appointments in key posts and the performance of the Evacuee Trust Property Board have made it difficult for the state to protect sacred places of religious minorities. The law and order situation in the country is satisfactory due to the sacrifices of our armed forces. It is now the responsibility of the present government to promote a positive image of Pakistan at the international level and devise strong policies to promote religious tourism.

Our foreign policy must ensure a soft visa regime for international religious tourists. Faith tourism is so important that we should establish a separate department. In this way, we can secure millions of dollars every year by allowing religious tourists from South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and other countries to visit Pakistan. The revenue generated from religious tourists can help us get rid of foreign debts and ensure a bright future for our coming generations.

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

Twitter: RVankwani

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Pakistani Hindus discuss their issues in Pakistan Hindu Council AGM

By : pakistanhinducouncil.org.pk.

The First General Body Meeting of Pakistan Hindu Council Cabinet 18-20 was held on 9th December 2018, Sunday at Global Marquees, Karachi. The meeting was started with Gayatri/Mool Mantar and then a welcome speech was done by Mr. Raja Bhawan (Vice-President) in which he welcomed all the members and applauds all the members for their contribution in PHC. The financial budget was presented by Mr. Bharat Kumar Manglani (Finance Secretary) in which all details were shared with the members. All Members unanimously approved the financial budget and praised the dedication of the Finance Secretary. Mr. Parshotam Ramani (General Secretary) described all the projects and events in front of members to show the performance and progress of this cabinet. As the main agenda was Forced Conversion so Mr. Gopal Khamuani (President) stated that forced conversion has become a big issue for Hindus and this should be resolved as soon as possible. He further said I think lack of caring and busy schedule of parents is also the reason for children to convert their religion. He also demanded in his speech that Marriage act law should be implemented on an immediate basis and the chairman of Evacuee trust property should be a Hindu so that no Hindu property get possessed illegally. To finish this matter from its roots, it is necessary to give our children the knowledge of religion, sacrifices and our norms along with basic knowledge. The President also discussed the future plans as he said that we are making committees at the district level so that we get knowledge about the people issues and we will also organize Dharmic quiz programs in different districts so that children get knowledge about our religion.

However, in open discussion, all respected members shared their thoughts and suggestions regarding this issue. Mr. Paman Lal Rathi (Joint Secretary) stated that these cases usually take place in lower areas like Thar and interior where people do not have enough to eat and also do not have the education so we should give them education and should help them in reducing the poverty. Mr. Hotchand Karmani (Advisor and Ex-President) stated that it is the responsibility of every member of PHC to help people and to solve their issues. Mr. Rajesh Kumar Hardasani (Advisor) advised that we should tell our children about our religion and about the life of girls who got victimized and sometimes parents are also responsible in this issues as they did not give time to their children and allow them to do by their own. Mr. Harish Sakhija (MC Member) stated that there are different reasons but we should handle these issues personally and did not let anyone do politics as this is the matter of many lives. Mr. Prem Talreja (Advisor) advised that we should not create difference and should help lower castes as well because we all are from one religion and human first. At last, Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani (Patron) also shared its work and dedication towards this issues as he stated that people do politics in these issues that cause a negative impact on our community. He stated that we should stay combine and should fight boldly against these issues so that we could get over this issue. At last, the Patron answered the questions of members and then it was unanimously decided by all the Bearers, MC Members, Advisors, Observers, life members and associate members that parent should give time to their children and should give them religious knowledge as well so that they know about the actual meaning of Hinduism and the purification of this religion.

 

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Santana Sikh of Potohar Pakistan

Baba Khem Singh Bedi Mahal Kallar Syedan Pakistan

 

Baba Khem Singh Bedi (1832-1905) of Bedi Mahal, Kallar Syedan was the influential Sikh leader of the traditional “Santana” order in Potohar region, Pakistan.( Sangini fort at Kallar Sayedan is also worth seeing).bedi mahalBeing 13th in line after great Guru Nanak Bedi (1469-1539) in the family tree, Baba Khem Singh always had one eye on political power. His influence was concentrated in the West Punjab — Sahiwal (Montgomery) and Kallar Syedan areas.bedi mahalBeing a traditional Sikh, that is an offshoot from a merchant class of Hindus (Kshatriya or Bedi), Khem Singh believed that there is very little difference between the two religions.bedi mahalKhalsa (pure) Sikh followers of the 10th Guru Gobind, insisted on separating Hindu and Sikh religions, but Baba Khem Singh would have none of that. This limited Baba Khem’s influence to the western half of Punjab.bedi mahalWhile the influence of Mughals’ had reduced considerable in the Punjab region in the last part of 1700s, the Sikh had risen to prominence. Baba Khem Singh during this time, being a spiritual leader, was very useful to the Colonials in preaching secularism, keeping dissent under check and sending recruits for the British.

Baba Khem Singh fitted perfectly with the colonials’ plans like a Tee. He participated in suppressing native rebellion in Gujera (Sahiwal) in 1857, personally leading cavalry charge and clearing routes.bedi mahal

For his loyalty to the crown as a ‘friendly native’, he was awarded the whole gamut of titles, powers and lands in Western Punjab, now part of Pakistan. The privileges included magisterial powers, knighthood, and an invitation to King Edward VII’s coronation etc. He was gifted vast agricultural lands appropriated by the British from the Muslim notables and distributed to their ‘loyalists’.

Baba Khem Singh’s descendants also sent soldiers to fight British battles including the 1st world war.

Baba Khem Singh was a huge philanthropist as well. Naturally, Sikhs’ being a minority (3%) anointed to rule by the British, had to be generous, in order to stay influential in a majority Muslim population. He was known to have organized the construction of 50 schools and paid seed money for a college in Rawalpindi.bedi mahalDespite his generosity, he still had money to splurge on a castle in the center of impoverished Kallar Syedan. The four storey castle had its own stables, dog kennels, a zoo and servant quarters. The bottom floor was the basement, probably to hide in, in case barbarians ran them over. Only the Muslim servants were allowed inside the premises.bedi mahalOne octogenarian described in his memoir the first time at his teen age that he saw the inside of the Bedi Mahal after the Sikhs’ left in 1947. All the 5000 Sikhs’ of the surrounding area had gathered at the Bedi Mahal compound during the religious riots and were driven in army convoys to safety. No one was killed here.bedi mahalThe Bedi Mahal we saw was dilapidated, but was still grand. I loved the mehmankhana (guest room), the carved wooden doors with brass knobs, the jharokas’, galleries, walkways, open central courtyard and dome shaped corner posts.bedi mahalThe best thing in Bedi Mahal was the frescoes and murals on the walls. The figures were of Muslim conquerors, Hindu deities, Sikh religious people, saints, all lined up around the courtyard into one streaming image of perfect religious harmony.bedi mahalThe top deck of the Bedi Mahal still overlooks Kallar Syedan like a king. I could see the town’s Hindu temple and agricultural well in the distance.bedi mahalWe then went up to the zanankhana at the forehead of the Mahal and it had images of Golden temple, Amritsar and several religious gatherings, mostly depicting Guru Nanak and some Hindu lady deity.  There was a wood carved separation as well. I wish someone could decipher the frescoes for me.

Oh in case I forget, Amitabh Bachan’s mother was a Bedi too, and her grandfather belonged to Kallar Syedan.bedi mahalIn the courtyard of the castle is the gaddi (grave) of a Muslim Sufi saint, kept there by the Bedi as a testament to their secular outlook. Besides the grave is the Sikh symbol erected on top of a metal pole.bedi mahalFifteen years in the making (ending 1855), Bedi Mahal (Castle) was abandoned in 1947. It was converted to a primary school and General Tikka Khan is one of its alumni. Now know why I keep searching through haunted houses while others make it to generals — it was the school building!

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Sikh Samadhi and Hindu temple of Gulyana Pakistan

By : Wali Imran.

Gulyana town Gujar Khan Pakistan that was destroyed twice

Courtesy : Wali Imran,
 
900 years old Gulyana town of about a 50,000 people, just a few kilometers South of Gujar Khan, was raised to the ground once several centuries ago, by raiders from the West. The second time it was destroyed during the 1947 partition riots.GulyanaBefore 1947, the Gulyana town center was mostly Hindu and Sikh. The Hindus and Sikh owned all the businesses in the town center and Muslims were their tenants, peasants and laborers. Muslims sold their lands to pay off their debts and also handed over their crop of wheat. The Dewan, Dutt, Mohyal Brahmin, and Singh families were always part of royal elite.

Bollywood Star Sanjay Dutt is from the same branch of warrior Brahmin Dutt and belongs to the same place.GulyanaLand owners were guaranteed protection from military’s presence in Gujar Khan from the North and a rivulet from the south. This land produced sheer gold and wealthy Sikhs and Hindus lived like kings in mansions make of stone, several storey high.GulyanaBakshi Tek Chand, Dewan Prithvi Chand Dutt, Bakshi Moti Ram and Tara Singh were the dominant names of those times.  They built temples, dug up wells for the 30-50 kanal holdings each and distributed these lands amongst their permanent serfs. They did however, treat their serfs with respect and gave them a good share of the crop — what do you expect from absentee landlords.The Sikh had a timber business. Logs from Kashmir valley were dumped into Jhelum River and recovered downstream near Jhelum city to be sold at Gujar Khan.

The Hindus were mostly traders, money lenders and retailers.GulyanaMuslims were mostly illiterate and poor and were destined to stay that way considering the only quality boarding school in nearby Gujar Khan had 95% non-muslim attendance.

During the 1947 riots, one Sikh Bali Singh and one Hindu Lady Banto were killed in the riots but the rest were whisked away with their gold, in the safety of Gorkha soldiers. The Muslim riot crowd burnt to the ground the several symbols of oppression and got rich in the process, during the looting.

One Hindu tehsildar had the magistrate’s powers to jail someone for 6 months.GulyanaWhen the British left suddenly in 1947, the carefully crafted social experiment in native subjugation came crumbling down within days.

 

Otherwise, one 100 years old resident of Gulyana tells me, “the Hindus and Sikh were very friendly towards the Muslims, their women played around with the boys, molvi were not trouble makers then; they cared about their serfs and neighbors’, built schools, hospitals and wells for the general public. No Muslim was allowed into their kitchen however. Balraj, Sita, Beera, Ramu Shikari, Gujrati, Peecha Singh, Mangat Singh, Jawals Singh, Raab Singh, Gurdyal, were the well-known Hindus and Labbu, Gurra, Jagdev, Santa, Paacha, Chatru were the known Sikh of the time. One Tek Chand Never left for India and embraced Islam. His wife and three sons left for India. Tek Chand married a Muslim lady and had seven children. They are all in poverty now. Several of the old mansion, one dhramsala, one temple, several bowlis (watering hole) have been lost to time.Gulyana

The surrounding farms around Gulyana were refreshing. The old styled spoke wells, Sikh Samadhi, Hindu temple and 100 years old Gujarati’s mansion still survives.I went into the temple inner sanctum and saw the most beautiful frescos of mixed Hindu and Sikh religious figures like hanuman, Krishna, Sita, Baba Guru Nanak, Bala, Mardana, etc.Gulyana

Pakistan government build a dam 5 km upstream, called the Ugahaun; it’s a lovely place to fish and boat around.

The union council in 1947 had more financial powers than it does today.GulyanaIn short, all the entrepreneurs, educators, administrator, jurisprudence people, revenue people, land record people and large scale farmers left in 1947.

GulyanaI am astonished how Pakistan survived with an illiterate mass of people, steeped in poverty — traumatized by exploitation and mass killings.

Other interesting places in Potohar region are:

Bedi Mahal, Pharwala fort, Malot fort, Sangini fort, Rawat fort and Mankial Stupa.

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Katas Raj Hanuman Temple, Kalar Kahar, Pakistan

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Kalyan Das The Hindu Temple of Compassion in Rawalpindi-2

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Hindu Temples ( Mandirs) of Rawalpindi, Pakistan – 1

Four temples are located in a narrow lane that runs between Sarafa bazaar and Lunda bazaar. All four are at a walking distance, and quite similar in appearance. The entrance to this lane from the Sarafa bazar road is barely a meter wide. Knowing that pre-partition Hindus dominated trade in Rawalpindi, finding Hindu remnants in Bohar, Lunda, and Sarafa bazars is no surprise.

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Hindu Temples Of Lal Kurti Bazaar, Rawalpindi Pakistan

The most well preserved of the three Hindu temples in the old Lal-Kurti Bazar is now a private property of a well-connected Muslim migrant family and is closed to the public. It is just a few yards from the Lal Kurti main square. Both Hindus and Sikh used to worship in the place during British times. This temple is in the courtyard of an old Hindu mansion. The place had a watering-well and the sacred Banyan tree.

[Click here to read more ….]

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