The messy state of the Hindu temples in Pakistan - Middle East Transparent


The messy state of the Hindu temples in Pakistan

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Of the 300 Hindu temples that Pakistan inherited in 1947 atthe time of partition, hardly three dozen have managed to survive,many of whom are in ruins and set to disappear with the passage oftime if due attention is not paid to their maintenance.

Following the demolition of the historic Babri Mosque in India in 1992by Hindu extremists, over 200 Hindu temples were destroyed acrossPakistan by angry Muslims. Many of the Hindus living in Sindh andNorth West Frontier Province lost their homes as the largest outwardmigration of the Hindu community since Partition took place duringthese years. But despite all that, Hindus still exist in Pakistan,numbering more than 2 million. The Hindu population is largest in theSindh province followed by the North West Frontier Province of thecountry, but there are Hindu communities dotted all over Pakistan whocontinue to suffer constant threats against their security, propertyand lives by extremist Muslims.

Together with the apathy of the general public, the Hindus of Pakistanremain a forgotten and voiceless people who have to live a low profileexistence and have to put up with many insults to their honour anddignity, without any safeguards. The Pakistani authorities rarelyintervene to help their Hindu nationals, despite the fact that there are frequent reports of the kidnapping of Hindu women and children andlooting of Hindu property, besides other forms of discrimination and persecution.

As things stand, most Hindu temples in Pakistan are non-existent whileidols in many ancient temples of historical importance are missing.The famous Temples at Katas, near Kalar Kahar, are in a dilapidated condition and require renovation. This is despite the fact that Pakistan had been already signed an agreement with India to restorethe Katas temples. The temples had been falling into disrepair, and parts of them had been cemented before Indian leader L K Advani’s 2005tour to Pakistan. One of the Katas temples in Pakistan had even beenconverted into a library, though Katas is sacred to Hindus.

The Katas Raj temples are located on a hill six kilometres from ChoaSaidan Shah of the Chakwal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.Katas is mentioned in the Mahabharata, one of the three major ancientSanskrit epics of India. According to the Hindu religious belief, bothKatas and Paskar (Ajmer) are the eyes of Shiva, one of their gods.Paras Nath Jogi drew his last breath on Katas which also holds greathistorical significance, being the place where renowned Muslimscientist Alberuni attempted to measure the circumference of theEarth, studied Sanskrit and wrote his “Kitab-ul Hind”.

Similarly, the Doodhwali Mata Mandir and the Sheetla Mandir in Lahore,the aapital of the Pakistani Punjab province, built before theinvasion of Alexander, are in dilapidated condition. The ancient idolsat these temples have either been looted or are missing and thegovernment has denied permission to install new ones in place ofthese. The Sheetla Mandir at Lahore, built before the invasion ofAlexander, has seen many of its precious idols either looted or handedover to archaeological department. The Doodhwali Mata Mandir betweenthe Shah Almi and Lahori Gate in Lahore has somehow managed to survivein its dilapidated sanctum sanctorum.

The famous Parahlad Mandir and Jain Mandir near Anarkali in Lahore,which were largely damaged by fanatic Muslims after the demolition ofBabri Mosque in India in 1992, have been locked and an Islamic schoolis being run in its compound. Bhagat Hakikat Rai’s Samadhi in Lahore,where a fair used to be held every Basant day is also in a bad shape.However, the Pakistan government is not allowing local Hindus to lookafter their desolate temples on the pattern of Sikh gurdwaras, for unknown reasons.

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