ISLAMABAD:The Hindu community based in twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad Wednesday celebrated the festival of colours, Holi with traditional enthusiasm here at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA).
Holi is celebrated every year around the time of the vernal equinox, and is typically celebrated in March but sometimes as early as February. Holi is a joyous celebration of spring when people gather in the streets and play with colours, distribute sweets and dance together by smearing 'Abeer' or red vermilion powder and throwing colour and water-filled balloons at each other.
The event is the Festival of Colours in the Hindu religious calendar, and it signifies new beginnings, leaving behind Winter and welcoming Spring.
The celebrations were arranged by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony.
The ministry arranges a total of 10 festivals of minority communities annually, said an official of minority wing of the ministry. The event was attended by a large number of Hindu community, parliamentarians, diplomats, minority dignitaries and community members from all over the country. State of State for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Amin-ul-Hasnat Shah was also present.
The festival of Holi has been linked with the burning of Holika. It revolves around the mythology of the demon king Hiranya Kashyapu ordering his sister Holika to enter a fire with Pralhad, son of the demon king and a devout follower of Lord Bishnu, in her lap so that Pralhad would stop chanting the name of the Lord.
The catch was that Holika wouldn't burn in the fire because of a boon she had received from god. But it so happened that the fire burnt Holika whereas Pralhad remained unharmed and came out of the fire still chanting the name of god.
Then onwards, the festival is being celebrated by smearing colour in enjoyment.There is also a saying that Lord Bishnu had told Holika that the boon she had received would be meaningless if it was misused.
Besides its historic and religious significance, the festival is linked to the well-being and prosperity of the locals. It also promotes tourism and trade.
Addressing to the participants, Minister of State for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Amin-ul-Hasnat Shah said government was fulfilling its responsibility to promote equality, protect minority rights and working for dissemination of peace in the country.
The government is taking maximum measures to protect the rights of minorities. All possible steps were being taken to safeguard the sacred places of minorities across the country as well.
He said Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan ensures equal rights to the minorities and government is bound to fulfill its constitutional responsibility.
He said minorities are enjoying religious freedom in the country. The constitution declares citizens of the country equal. Government is committed to protecting their freedom at any cost. Speaking on the occasion Pandit Ashok highlighted the importance and background of celebrating Holi.
MNA Asiya Nasir said the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interafatih Harmony celebrates non-Muslim Pakistanis festival at official level which is laudable.
MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani said minorities should be granted right to double vote. State Minister for sports Dr Darshan lauded passage of Hindu marraige bill by the Parliament. Chief Guest Parliamentary Secretary Khalil George said the government of PML-N has done utmost for the welfare of minority communities.APP/AFP