Islamabad: The few Pakistani Hindus, who
have made the federal capital their home, will miss splashing
colours at each other as they brace up for a quiet Holi.
Many of the Hindus, most of whom are businessmen from
Sindh province, have taken on Muslim names and lead rather
discreet lives here.
"We have two Eids, too. One is Diwali, the other is Holi.
We celebrate both the festivals in Karachi," Kumar, who runs
the popular Maharani Handicraft shop in Super Market, told
It is not that Kumar or any of his brethren are harassed
by the majority Muslim community, yet they like to lie low.
"No one has ever threatened us. But we don`t let people
know that we are not Muslims," said Kumar, who greeted this
reporter in his shop with `As-salam-alaikum`.
"The Holi colours are available at Aabpara. If somebody
wants, they can play at home or they can go to a temple in
Rawalpindi where they play Holi each year".
The best handicraft shops in Super and Jinnah Super
Islamabad`s two most popular markets are owned by Kumar`s
relatives or fellow Sindhis from Karachi.
Girish, owner of another famous handicraft shop in Super
market, has two names -- one, a Muslim name which he gives out
to customers and the other, his real name which he reveals to
those whom he can trust.
Girish broke the rules last Holi by organising a get-
together for his friends in Super. They splashed `gulal`
outside his shop, but this year no celebrations have been
Unfortunately, the other `Eid` that Kumar spoke about
Diwali too is not celebrated in Islamabad.
"We usually go home (to Sindh) for Diwali. But for the
past couple of years, we haven`t been able to do that because
Ramzan and Diwali come around at the same time. That is peak
business time for us and we cannot shut shop," Kumar said.
Crackers are not sold in Islamabad for security reasons,
and in a one-off incident, Kumar`s friend who burst a cracker
in a market a year ago was arrested.
"He was released after we convinced the policemen that
the cracker was burst to celebrate Diwali," he said.
Another handicrafts shop is owned by a medical doctor.
"We are seven brothers, we are all doctors. As there is
not much money in practising medicine, we are all doing
business," he said while handing out his visiting card.
Since most Westerners have either left or do not visit
market places anymore, business has been unusually down for
Most Hindus are dressed in pant-shirt as opposed to the
traditional shalwar-kurtas that most Pakistanis wear.
At Indus, a shop at Jinnah Super famous for its carpets,
the shop helper gives out his real name rather reluctantly.
"A lot of Indians come to our shop, and sometimes we get
harassed," he said.