Homesick and yearning for a connection to their community at a time when everyone is coming together with sparklers and mithais. That’s how Hindu students staying away from home feel every year, when Diwali is just around the corner. (It’s kind of like being one of the 5 people in LUMS while your family is living it up at Bakra Eid in Karachi.)
HumAahang, is a peace society at LUMS. It organizes debates, open mic nights, human chains, solidarity vigils, celebrates events of religious importance for minorities and reaches out to victims of terrorism and extremism. The 2016 event was perhaps one of the biggest Diwalis on the LUMS campus yet.
Students armed with sparklers. People crowding around the Rangoli. Sharing mithai, calling up their Hindu friends to take part in the celebrations.
Filling the tiny clay lamps with oil. Lighting lamps to make diyas, which signifies the triumph of good over evil, which goes back in time to the people who lit oil lamps to help the royal family make their way back home.
The students talked about the story of the Lord Rama who finally returned home with his family after exile. They explained people light oil lamps at Diwali to remember that light triumphs over dark and good triumphs over evil.
“I feel really homesick around this time of the year; absolutely love that they were so thoughtful,” said one of the ecstatic Hindu students.
This event was a big step forward in promoting tolerance and encouraging interfaith dialogue. It will hopefully be a stepping stone to making a community, where the events and holidays pertaining to religious minorities are observed with the same importance that the majority gets. One mark of being an excellent academic institution is its diversity and inclusiveness of a wide range of cultures and religions. As students, it is our responsibility to be the the drivers of bringing such changes in our institutions while we can.
How can we change the system ?
It is unfair that a lack of numbers voids someones of the right to celebrate and observe religious holidays and events with as much pomp as the majority can. If our students can care enough to persuade institutions throughout the country to observe religious events for minorities, it will change the mindset of how these celebrations are perceived throughout the nation in the long run.
History repeats itself
How many times have our history books told us about the religious violence between Muslims and Hindus? The reason was usually because of one group trying to micromanage the other. Cow slaughter, beef consumption, monotheistic entities, jiza, Kashmir…
The list of reasons goes on and on. So, instead of marking out our religious differences and assuming superiority over another, let’s learn to practice peace.
Live and let live.
All Images Via: HumAahang/Facebook