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.”


Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

Updated 18 September 2020

Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

  • Under the plan, the government will set up 12 markets along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier
  • Prime minister approves setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by February next year

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has decided to set up markets along its borders with neighboring Afghanistan and Iran to boost trade opportunities, foster peace and check smuggling, the commerce ministry said on Friday.
Main crossing point into Pakistan for both goods and people from Iran and Afghan also serve as major smuggling routes.
“The border markets will help create job opportunities and establish a peaceful relationship with the neighboring countries,” Aisha Humera Moriani, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, told Arab News.
Under the plan, the government is establishing 18 markets: 12 along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier.
In a meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as a pilot project, to be functional by February next year.
Moriani said the markets would contribute to local development and help the government address “smuggling and boost legal trade across the border.”
Pakistan is fencing its borders with Afghanistan and Iran to check cross-border militancy, illegal movement of people and smuggling, which is a major source of income for people living along border towns and villages.
Sardar Shoukat Popalzai, President Balochistan Economic Forum, said the government should have built “common markets” along the Afghanistan and Iran borders with the mutual consent of the neighboring governments to maximize benefits for people on both sides of the borders.
“The government has not released a feasibility report, if there is any, of these markets as to how are they going to help the local population,” he told Arab News.
Popalzai said Balochistan border areas were sparsely populated and establishment of a few shopping terminals would “hardly make any difference in the lives of the people.”
He said cross-border smuggling was a major source of income for people living in the frontier areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, so “this requires a lot more effort than mere setting up of markets to check this undocumented economy.”
Zubair Motiwala, chairman of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the government should establish cold storages and warehouses in the border markets to boost the export of perishable and other items to the neighboring countries.
“The taxation system on the exports and imports of different items through the land routes should be well defined to encourage businessmen and locals to boost the legal trade with Afghanistan and Iran,” he said.