January 28

A Hindu Pilgrimage in Pakistan

 

Published in Roads and Kingdoms

“Arri Allah.” 

My grandfather’s face was anguished, his thick white eyebrows raised, when he saw the tiny statuette of the goddess Durga that I had taken from his friend’s house. “My god, Annie, what have you done?” I had no answer, but even as a five year old I knew I had done something terribly wrong; I had pocketed a deity from a sacred place of worship.

Every year, my grandparents used to take us to Uncle Devraj’s house in Karachi where together we celebrated the annual full moon sighting, known as Diwali. Devraj was Hindu, and my grandfather was Muslim, but they both spoke Sindhi and shared familial roots. Theirs was not a unique story. Unlike in Punjab, where partition brought bloodshed on an unprecedented scale, the Sindh province to the south saw little or no communal violence. The Hindus of Sindh largely stayed behind. Muslim and Hindu families shared bonds that reached back generations; a sense of respect for community prevailed. My grandfather even had his own collection of Hindu icons in his study. Perhaps I’d taken the Durga from Devraj’s house thinking it would be equally at home with him. Full story here.

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