by Saad Rabbani
KARACHI: On a hot September night, I became part of a festival of lights—an Eid of a different sort.
I had been invited to the Manoria Goth, a Hindu locality near the Airport, to attend the Bhandra Festival. I was the only Muslim there.
The streets were full of lights. There was festivity in the air. People today were celebrating, the Bhandra day of Baba Ram Dev Peer.
The festival, a resident explained, was organized every year at the same location to mark the end of Bhadwa—the month of fasting. They call their fast ‘upwas’
WHO IS BABA RAM DEV PEER?
Baba Ram Dev Peer, an incarnation of their God Lord Krishna, fasted in the month of Bhadwa. His followers believe that Lord Krishna sent the revered saint to resolve their problems. And every year they pay him respect by fasting through the month.
I Met 57 year old Kishor Ganga Ram. He had been organizing this festival for the last 40 years. “Our festival is grand. The second-biggest in Pakistan—the best festival takes place in Tando Allah Yaar,” he boasted.
The festival begins with Pooja, then everyone receives Prasad, and the Bhajang continues throughout the night.
It was heartening to see policemen helping the community organize the festival. They patrolled the area—and ensured them that they were on the look-out for any mischief-mongers.