Dressed in colourful clothes and adorned with traditional handmade garlands, dozens of Hindu couples from different parts of Sindh and Balochistan tied the knot at a mass wedding ceremony in Karachi on Sunday.
The Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) had organised the programme at the Railway Ground located along II Chundrigar Road. PHC founder Ramesh Kumar Vankwani and other leaders welcomed the visitors to the event.
The first event, which had been held back in 2008, had seen 35 couples get married at that time. That figure has grown to 100 over the years.
“This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, we invited only half of them to the ceremony,” said Vankwani, who is also a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNA.
The organisers had made arrangements to provide face masks and hand sanitisers to the programme’s participants, while social distance was also observed.
Vankwani said that it is a cultural activity for the Hindu community that makes up nine million of Pakistan’s population.
“The event also conveys the message to the world that our minority communities are completely free to hold their social events in accordance with their religion.”
He said that in these especially tough times, it is not easy for parents, most of whom are very poor, to marry off their children.
“One hundred couples were chosen out of those who had applied after scrutiny,” he said. For this purpose, he explained, applications are sought from community members through the PHC’s district units a few months prior to the ceremony.
The PHC’s committee then scrutinises the applications, shortlisting the most deserving candidates. Those selected are then required to provide copies of their ID cards and other documents for the purpose.
The participants of the event said that the PHC is helping alleviate the problems of the Hindu community in Pakistan, as many families cannot afford to marry off their children.
“We always wanted a grand event for our children’s wedding but could never afford the expenses,” said Ganesh, the father of a bride named Radha. “The PHC has provided us with the opportunity.”