Hindu Community Maintains Identity Outside of India

July 5, 2004

Source: Outlook India


On July 5, 2004 Outlook India reported, 'Bani is a Gujarati lady with moist red teeth and a wicked gleam in her eye. When she's in a good mood, the ancient temple sweeper with no confirmed human master will admit to being 'between sixteen and eighty years old.' She sits at the gate of the Lakshmi Narayan temple, a small impoverished shrine that stands at one end of a creek in Karachi's prime real estate. Four young girls walk to the gate. The sheer beauty of two is completely wasted on Bani, who stops the girls with a wave and asks them to leave: 'Muslims aren't allowed in'...To the conventional secular urban sophisticate, this may sound like the dangerous portent of violent religious conflict. But there is no malice here...A similar scene plays out at a crowded Shiva temple in Karachi's posh Clifton neighbourhood. It's Monday night, the busiest spell in the temple's week. Jayanti Ratna stands with a stick at the gate and screams 'Jai Shiv Shankar'. When someone doesn't respond he stops the trespasser with, 'Muslims and Christians are not allowed.' Does it feel strange for a Hindu man in Pakistan to stand by a busy pavement and block local Muslims? 'Not at all. I was born here. I belong here. I will exercise my right to serve my faith.' Today Pakistan's Hindus number somewhere between 2.5 million (a somewhat suspect official estimate) and 5 million (according to popular Hindu politician Kishinchand Parwani). Over 95 per cent of them live in the province of Sindh; most are poor farmers and labourers from the scheduled castes."