Article: My journey as a Pakistani Hindu
by Raj Kumar Gujar
When I went to the United States for a semester abroad, I was frequently asked a rather bothersome question, “How are you treated, being a minority in your country?” My answer has always been very simply, I am treated just like anyone else; one of their own.
For the last four years, I have been living with a Muslim family as a paying guest and I have never felt discriminated on the basis of my religion, or any other basis for that matter, in their home. The only form of prejudice I have ever faced is when I went to Islamabad for higher education. As I introduced myself in class, the mere mention of my name made the other students and teacher question if I was Indian. I couldn’t understand how they failed to know that the Pakistani population constituted 1.2% Hindus.
However, that wasn’t the last of it. During a cricket match between India and Pakistan, one that we were watching in class, and I was supporting the Pakistani team, much to the astonishment of some of my classmates. In fact, a friend of mine even asked why I was not supporting the Indian team. In that moment, I wish I had a Pakistani copy right patent next to my name, so I didn’t have to give any explanations. Did I have to support the Indian team simply because of my name or religion?
As far as my identity is concerned, there are many times that I have had to show my NADRA identity card to ensure people that I am a Pakistani, be it the local merchant or the traffic police. But I don’t believe a Muslim feels any differently in the US. I am sure s/he has to prove his/her identity as an American-Muslim too.
Unlike what everyone seems to think, for me, it has been a blessing to be born into a Hindu family in a Muslim state; I have been treated with nothing but respect, care and love. From schooling to university, I was always surrounded by Muslim friends. I have studied Islamiat like every other student in Pakistan, and furthermore, I was extremely appreciated by my teachers. I was the first Hindu to get admission in the Army Public School Chhor Cantonment in Mirpur Khas, Sindh. I remember the days when I used to fast during Ramazan as a respectful gesture to my Muslim friends. On the first day of my fast, the warden of the hostel offered me a seat near him and we opened our fast together. I also remember the days when I participated in Muharram procession in the small town of Dhoronaro.
Even though the common notion is that minorities in Pakistan need to be pitied, I have never felt that way. Most of the blame I would set for such a deplorable reputation would be at the media; it has portrayed the situation of the minorities living in Pakistan as third-class citizens. Yet, I have never been treated anything remotely close to that. Last month, I travelled to India for the first time as I had to attend a conference in Chandigarh. Even though I was in a country that was home to millions belonging to the same religion and caste as me, I missed my country, my home, my identity and my people.
I won’t deny that I was bombarded with questions regarding the status of Hindus in Pakistan. But being a Pakistani Hindu, I was unbiased and precise with my answers. I told them that I have always felt like a star of my country and I feel safe, which is why I am as loyal as any Muslim in the country. Pakistan doesn’t just belong to Muslims; it belongs to all the residents of its soil. Furthermore, there is good and bad everywhere in the world, but one should stay positive and if it’s about the security, then the Muslims themselves are not safe either. So why single out a particular community based on what is being portrayed to the world?
I believe religion is not the cause of tension between us, as religion itself teaches us tolerance and coexistence. I have been sharing my religious festivals (Holi, Diwali, and Raksha bandhan) with my Muslims friends and I tend to participate in their festivals (Eidul Fitr) with the same zeal. I even took my friends to Katas Raj Temple, which is the national heritage, just so they realise that it doesn’t just belong to Hindus.
We are a happy family with different identities. As a nation, we share the same food, clothes, buildings, laws, and events. All these elements are what bring us together under the same umbrella, then why do we look for reasons to hate each other?
Besides, living here as Raj, my name has provided me quite a unique edge over everyone else; according to one of my female friends, my name is easy to remember (I believe I have Shahrukh Khan to thank for that), and makes me easy to fall in love with! Well, there we have it. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Surprised?
Raj Kumar Gujar is from Umerkot, Sindh. He is working as President at District Women Action Forum in Umerkot. He is a social entrepreneur, runs a small home business to empower women through exhibiting their handicrafts in a big markets of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. He is also a friend of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, and an educationist running a school back in his home town. He tweets at @RKGujar
This post originally appeared on Express Tribune: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/30248/my-journey-as-a-pakistani-hindu/
Posted on December 4, 2015, in Articles, Cross-Border Travel Stories and tagged Cross-Border Experiences, Experiences of Pakistanis visiting India, Pakistani Hindus. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.
Reblogged this on inzamam786.
Nice review of thoughts and positivity.
Interesting personal perspective. It’s heartening to read about this incident. The limitation of personal perspective remains that it can’t be applied to everyone. Just because I had a good 3-course meal, doesn’t mean there’s no hunger in the world. Good to read that humans can be humans rather than just followers of a religion.
Just like an Indian Muslim’s perspective. It does not apply to everyone.
I don’t know about the reactions of other people from India, and i being an Indian totally appreciate your answer.
Pakistan is your country, so your love towards Pakistan shouldn’t be biased just because you are a Hindu.
We as Indians feel betrayed when fellow Muslims of India chant Pakistan Zindabad, so how can i/we expect people of Pakistan to bear a Pakistani favouring India just because he is a Hindu.
I salute your loyalty my friend and yes, your decision of keeping fasts during Ramazan, according to me, was one of the sweetest gesture.
May god bless you with all the power and strength. 🙂 Take care brother.
nice to hear this stand point from you dude!
So long since i had read positive reports on Pakistan!
thank you for clearing my mind of the prejudicial thoughts!
Hello. Can we use this article, with your byline and link to the original publication, on http://www.TheCitizen.in?
Yes, you may do that. – Team Aaghaz-e-Dosti
Live & Let live peacefully should be the policy. There’s unrest in the name of religion, Caste & Creed. Which leads to misunderstanding, hateredness created by communal forces. Thereby a country’s development is stalled. We must set aside such communal forces.
A good looking & articulate guy. He’s a great ambassador for Pakistan. We are all children of the same Creator, and our beginnings, lives and endings are the same. While beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, to my eyes Pakistani Hindus are better looking than Indian ones. The famous Kapoors are another example.
May Allah give you nothing but positives from Pakistan 🙂
Thanks for sharing your views Raj! I grew up with many non Muslim friends and went to school, college and university in Lahore, Pakistan and later in London too.
I never felt anything strange towards them from me and others, we equally enjoyed our lives as friends and students.
There may be problem where people are ignorant but that are very few that’s down to rich and poor divide regardless of anyone’s faith!
He is a beautiful Hindu citizen of Pakistan. May All our brothers and sisters have a safe and happy life in this country.
I belie that India and Pakistan must unite.
Save money on defence and invest money on education
Raj,, as a muslim or hindu its very important to understan one thing that we are human being,, i’m a hindu i live in city called bangalore in karnataka. but i have hundreds of muslim friends and i usually follow the ways of peace way of prophet Mohd HUSSAIN , who taught the world about the PEACE>
i love to go to darga every month and i’ll pay my Chaddar, I do my namaz, i follow the RAMDAN mahina and fasting, i never felt that islam religion or community is totally different than any other community or the religion,
I have read the Khuran which shows the way of living in the way of peace and harmony, its the matter of religious clashes in india i still feel why is this happening, i love to eat the biryani and kabab which prepared by my love arshiya Khanum who is my life and love.
we never felt that we are from different communities and we can not be one.. never we felt that our love can disturb us , yes ofcourse some of the idiots says that i cant love a muslim girl but my answer is i’m a indian and i love to be with a indian thats it… never thought about such things …
Madhu Naik Rathore
Bravo brother, feeling proud to be a Pakistani like you. Indeed patriotism is much superior then religion and sectarian conflicts
(y) God Bless u All…..i also think that Pakistan and India should Unite….your doing a great job….Best Of Luck
You made my day. Allah bless you Raj.
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