80 Hindu couples tie the knot at mass wedding in Karachi

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Faisal Edhi, Chairman of the Edhi Foundation, takes part in one of the most important rituals of a Hindu marriage during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Eighty couples got married during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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A woman pours ghee or clarified butter during a ritual as part of a mass wedding for 80 Hindu couples at the Railway grounds in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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A bride holds a vessel and a coconut while participating in a Hindu wedding ritual during a mass wedding of 80 couples at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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A bride, Asha Das, gets ready for the rituals during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Das recieves blessings from her mother after the completion of her wedding ceremony at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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A man appliee sindoor or vermilion to his bride's forehead as part of a ritual during a mass wedding involving 80 Hindu couples at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Brides and grooms are dressed up in different traditional attires during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Brides and grooms are dressed up in different traditional attires during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Brides and grooms are dressed up in different traditional attires during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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A couple is seen here participating in rituals during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Eighty couples got married during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Eighty couples got married during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Eighty couples got married during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Rituals are performed during a mass wedding of 80 Hindu couples at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Rituals are performed during a mass wedding of 80 Hindu couples at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Eighty couples got married during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Updated 28 January 2020

80 Hindu couples tie the knot at mass wedding in Karachi

  • Eighty Hindu couples get married in a joint ceremony with financial aid provided for all
  • Organizers say such events play a vital role in projecting a positive image of the country internationally 

KARACHI: Dressed in colorful apparel, 80 Hindu couples, from across Pakistan’s Sindh province, vowed to honor their partners for life at a mass wedding in Karachi on Sunday.

Faisal Edhi, son of late Pakistani philanthropist, Abdul Sattar Edhi, took part in the rituals while a Hindu priest, Maharaj Jay Kumar, recited a few verses to solemnize the weddings.

“Edhi Sb, when he was alive, would regularly attend our grand weddings. Today, his son, Faisal is among us, giving a message of interfaith harmony to the world, a message that we Pakistanis live together, mourn together and laugh together,” Ramesh Vankwani, president of the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC), a non-governmental organization, which has been organizing mass weddings for the past 12 years, told Arab News.




Eighty couples got married during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

The first event, which was held in 2008, saw 35 couples get married at the time. That number has since grown to 100 over the years.

“This year, 80 couples were chosen out of those who had applied and were scrutinized, bringing the total to more than 1,200 who have been married thus far,” Vinod Premlani, an organizer, told Arab News.




Eighty couples got married during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

The process itself, he added, is very tedious.
For the purpose, applications are sought from community members through the PHC’s district units at least three months prior to the event.

The PHC’s committee then scrutinizes the applications, shortlisting the most deserving candidates.

Those selected are then required to provide their National Identity Card and other documents for the purpose.

Unique to Karachi, the mass weddings cost Rs8 million to arrange – funds that are sourced from the community or sponsored by banks and other entities.

On any given day, mass weddings take nearly two hours to complete.

For Sunday’s event, which was held at the Railway Ground along I.I. Chundrigar Road, the couples traveled from different parts of interior Sindh to participate in the rituals.




Eighty couples got married during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

After a brief announcement by Vankwani, Maharaj Kumar continued with the rituals which required all the brides and grooms to take individual vows for their partners.

Vankwani said such events are necessary for any society as they promote “strong social bonds.”

“Strong social bonds are developed among the participants as they celebrate their big day in a joint gathering. We also provide financial support – amounting to more than Rs100,000 ($647) – to the couples so that they can start their life with honor and dignity,” Vankwani said, adding that it also projects a positive image of Pakistan on the international stage.

“We want to show the international community that non-Muslims enjoy complete freedom to organize and participate in socio-religious ceremonies, too,” he said.

It’s a thought, Edhi says, which is unique to the idea of Pakistan. “Today, I am very happy that deserving couples were married with such dignity. These are the sons of the Sindh soil and have been living here for thousands of years. We believe in humanity and are here to show that we are together,” he said.

Edhi wasn’t the only Muslim to participate in the event. “I come here every year. It’s a brilliant cultural event where the poor are given a lot of respect,” Dr. Karamat Ali, a social activist and executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research told Arab News. 

Abdul Rasheed, a 50-year-old resident of Sangar who was accompanying a Hindu couple, said he was at the event because his friends were like a family to him.




A bride, Asha Das, is seen here placing a garland on her groom Sanjay Pradeep Kumar, during a mass wedding at the Railway Ground in Karachi on January 26, 2020. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

While organizers said that the mass wedding encouraged charity too; for a majority of couples participating in the event, it was a dream come true.

Jhaman Alam, a 50-year-old laborer from Umerkot, said giving his daughter away in marriage was not an easy task. “With this price hike, it’s hard for me to earn a living for my family. I am happy that my daughter has gotten married with dignity,” Alam told Arab News, as he poured some ghee [clarified butter] into the fire as part of the ritual for his daughter Dhhai Alam and son-in-law, Atam Parkash.

“My father, Parkash Das, was working at a marriage hall before he fell sick two years ago. Witnessing a wedding almost every second day, he would think of a lovely wedding ceremony for me,” Asha Das said, adding that Prakash had given up hope of ever seeing her married.

“This is wonderful. It is more than what my father had dreamed of for me.”


OIC condemns violence against Muslims in India

Updated 49 min 34 sec ago

OIC condemns violence against Muslims in India

  • The inter-governmental organization calls on Indian authorities to ensure safety of all Muslim citizens
  • Pakistan welcomes the OIC condemnation of communal violence against Indian Muslims

ISLAMABAD: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Thursday condemned anti-Muslim violence in India, asking the administration in New Delhi to bring the extremist Hindus perpetrating such extremist acts to justice.

“OIC condemns the recent and alarming violence against Muslims in India, resulting in the death and injury of innocent people and the arson and vandalism of mosques and Muslim-owned properties. It expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims of these heinous acts,” the OIC said in a Twitter post while calling on the Indian government to protect Muslim minorities across the country.

“The OIC calls on Indian authorities to bring the instigators and perpetrators of these acts of anti-Muslim violence to justice and to ensure the safety and security of all its Muslim citizens and the protection of Islamic holy places across the country,” said the tweet.

India has witnessed intense violence since the country passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) last December which was widely viewed as anti-Muslim. More than 30 people have been killed so far in the deadliest violence the Indian capital, New Delhi, has experienced in several decades.

“We welcome the response and concern shown by the OIC on communal violence against Muslims in India,” Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui told Arab News on Thursday.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui is addressing a weekly media briefing in Islamabad on Feb. 27, 2020. (AN Photo)

She demanded further deliberations on the matter by the biggest inter-governmental body of Muslim countries.

“The OIC should take up this issue and talk about it since more than 30 people have died and over 200 have been injured in the violence. This is the worst form of communal violence and Islamophobia in India. This is a matter of great concern for us and should also be a matter of grave concern for the entire Muslim world,” Farooqui said, acknowledging that the OIC had played a consistent, clear and positive role on Kashmir through its contact group for the last many decades.

“Pakistan is very concerned about the reports of vandalizing Muslim community’s homes and shops, and the desecration of their mosques. Our leadership and the international community at large have also expressed concern over the situation,” Farooqui said.

She said the people of Kashmir had suffered state oppression for decades at the hands of Indian authorities, and now that violence had also reached New Delhi.

“What is happening in India, especially during the last two weeks, is a continuation of an extremist and majoritarian mindset that proposes discriminatory policies toward minorities. This is the pattern we have witnessed in India for the last few years. The state oppression through which Kashmiris were suffering in the occupied territory has now found its way into the Indian capital,” Farooqui said.