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November 6, 2010

Hindu community in Pakistan celebrates Diwali

Islamabad:The Hindu community living in Pakistan celebrated the festival of Diwali at their religious places of worship on Friday. Federal Minister for Minorities' Affairs- Shahbaz Bhatti- felicitated Hindus on their festival of lights, colors and happiness, giving the message of promoting tolerance, dialogue, understanding, cooperation, and harmony, and to remove misunderstandings among different faiths, The News reported. The Ministry of Minorities had announced celebrating the festival officially for mainstreaming the minorities living in the country, like ten other festivals of minorities including Baisakhi, Holi, Eid-i-Rizwan, Chelumjusht, Nauroze, Christmas and Easter festivals of Sikhs, Hindus, Bahais, Kalash, Parsis and Christian Communities respectively. In a message, Bhatti said that his ministry welcomes the minorities' guests, and added that besides resolving the issues of minorities on a priority basis, the government will also table the Hindu Sikh Marriage Act in the parliament soon. Although the ministry planned to hold colorful programmes to celebrate Diwali, the events were arranged in a simple way in view of the disaster caused by the recent floods in Pakistan . This year, it was celebrated on November 5, while the festivities last for five consecutive days- starting two days before Diwali- and including the celebrations of Dhanteras, Narak Chaturdashi, Govardhan Puja and Bhai Duj. During the festival, which is connected with deep-rooted cultural values of the Hindu religion, people wake up early in the morning, wear new clothes, offer their prayers and touch the feet of their elders, and in return elders give them Diwali gifts. Hindus offer special prayers to Goddess Lakshmi to seek blessings of well being and good fortune, and celebrate with clay diyas, candles, lamps and firework to mark the jubilations.

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