by Zia Ur Rehman
September 29, 2015
Making their way through narrow illuminated streets on Sunday night, many members of Karachi’s Hindu community reached the Shri Ram Dev Pir Temple – a modest but meticulously designed structure decorated with blinking fairy lights – for the Rama Pir Mela, a festival to pay homage to a 14th century saint.
Like a gem amid fog, the temple is located in Moria Khan Goth, an area near Chota Gate on Sharea Faisal.
Chanting “Jeay Rama Pir”, the devotees, many of them women and children, kept arriving at the temple in throngs.
Some of them had brought dajjas (flags) that were hoisted at the temple. Five roadside stalls selling bangles, jewellery, religious sculptures and other items were set up outside the temple.
“It’s the celebration of the Bhandara day of Baba Ram Dev Pir,” said Praye Laal, an elder of the Hindu community, who has been organising the festival for the last 40 years.
“We organise it every year here on the last day of Bhadwa,” he added,
Bhadwa is a month of fasting in Hinduism. On the last day of the month, the members of the community end their upwas (fasting) under their pundit’s supervision and the celebrations begin.
Although the original tomb and temple of Ramdev alias Rama Pir, a 14th century Hindu saint, is located in the Rajasthan province of India, his devotees have built his temples across the India. Ramdev is considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu. He believed in the equality of all human beings and helped the downtrodden by granting them their wishes. He is often depicted on horseback.
In Pakistan, his devotees have built a large temple in the town of Tando Allah Yar, the third largest pilgrimage site for Hindus in Sindh.
Sanjesh S Dhanja, the president of the Pakistan Hindu Seva, said Hindus across the province as well as in other parts of the country travelled on foot to reach Tando Allah Yar and participate in the festival there.
The Bheel, Menghwar, Marwari, Odh Rajput, Baghri, Thakur and Kutchi Kohli communities are among those that undertake the journey on foot.
In Karachi, there are many Rama Pir temples. But the devotees gather at the Shri Ram Dev Pir Temple to celebrate the festival.
It is organised by the Hindu Mewari Punchayat which says that it is the second biggest Bhandara festival celebrated in Pakistan after the one in Tando Allah Yar.
“We, the Hindu community, fast for the whole month of Bhadwa and when it ends, we celebrate a festival on night of Poonam – last day of the month of Bhadwa,” said Parakash Khokar, a member of the Hindu Mewari Punchayat.
The devotees recited bhajans the whole night inside the temple till 4 am.
They also danced as drums and trumpets were played.
“By reciting bhajans the entire night, we thank Baba Rama Dev Pir,” Khokhar said. Kishor Ganga Ram, 57, another leader of the punchayat, actively participates in organising the festival.
“A month before the start of Bhadwa, we start our preparations, collect donations from community members, and put up posters in Hindu-populated neighbourhoods to inform their residents about the festival,” Ram said.
Police and Rangers were present on the streets during the celebrations.
“This time, extra police and Rangers personnel were deployed outside the temple and we thank the high-ups of the law enforcement agencies for it,” Dhanja said.