Is Pakistan a religious tolerant country? Here in Germany, I meet Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Christian, Jewish and atheist friends. Sometimes, they ask me if I knew any Christians, Hindus, etc. in Pakistan or if Pakistan is a tolerant and safe country. I find such questions funny because such questions represent ignorance.
I take you to a journey of Interior-Sindh Pakistan. I am not from the Interior-Sindh but I find it the most beautiful place in Pakistan. Mostly people find Hunza the most beautiful place of Pakistan and thousands of tourists flock to Hunza every year where I belong from, a beautiful valley in the Karakorum mountain region. I see beauty the other way. I find beauty in Sindh.
I had my first job in Jhudo, a very small town in the district of Mirpurkhas Sindh, the Southern Pakistan. Besides loving my job being a project engineer, I enjoyed more visiting the project-villages in the surrounding. In terms of money, the villages were poor according to the so-called UN standards but these villages actually represent the true picture of Pakistan, a picture that is mostly misrepresented in the national and global media.
Here I take you to the Interior-Sindh, a journey to find peace in co-existence and the Sufi way of living. With the kind permission, I am using the wonderful photos of my friend, Emmanuel Ghuddo, a photographer from the land of Sufis.
- Rama Pir Hindu Festival
You might not find it in the TVs you watch. This is the view of Tando Allahyar, a town in Interior-Sindh, during Rama Pir Hindu Festival. This is one of the biggest festivals of Pakistan. Hindu devotees reach here by foot from far-off regions to show respect, dancing and chanting slogans ‘Bolo Rama Pir ki Jay’.
- Grotto of Mother Mary
In 2015, in Dresden Germany, I needed a place to live for a week and I was helped by a Christian Catholic family free of cost. Back in Pakistan, I had friends in the form of Emmanuel Guddo, a Catholic who photographed all these great photos. This is the Grotto of Mother Mary at St. Michael’s Parish in Mirpurkhas, Sindh. There is quite a majority of Roman Catholics in Mirpurkhas region playing very active role in the development of region.
- Jain Temple of Bhodesar
One of my classmates in Stuttgart Germany was a Jain from Delhi India. She might be amazed to find the most beautiful Jain temples still standing beautifully in Pakistan. The ancient Jain Temple of Bhodesar, Nagarparkar Sindh represents a tolerant Pakistan. The region has a considerable Jain population and there are a number of Jain temples. This is perhaps the most glorious of all regions in Sindh and my personal favorite. The remains of a number of Jain temples are popular tourist attractions and heritage sites in the region.
- Sikhs at the Shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai
There is a Sikh friend from India living in the apartment I share in Leverkusen. Every time the Sikh friend meets me, greets me with a Salam and I reply with a Sasriyakal. Back in Sindh Pakistan, I remind him that there are many Sikhs showing at the Shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, a Sufi at Bhit Shah in the Interiors Sindh Pakistan.
- Hinglaj Hindu Pilgrimage
I remember the debates with Hindu friends in Germany that I do know Hindus in Pakistan and they would not believe. Anyhow, there were some who would not believe their TVs and we need more of such people. Many Hindus of Sindh migrate to Hinglaj, a town on the Makran coast in the Lasbela district of Balochistan, performing a Hindu pilgrimage.
According to the Hindus, Hinglaj Mata is said to be very powerful deity who bestows good to all her devotees. While Hinglaj is her main temple, temples dedicated to her also exist in neighboring Indian states Gujarat and Rajasthan.
- Shrine at Odero Lal
This is probably one of the best examples of co-existence and a great sign of love, respect and peace for one another. The Shrine at Odera Lal is a joint Muslim-Hindu complex located in the village of Odero Lal, near the city of Tando Adam and Nasarpur in the Interior-Sindh Pakistan. The shrine is notable as it is jointly used for worshipping by both Muslims and Hindus.
7. Shrine of Hazrat Abdulah Shah Ashabi
This is the shrine of Hazrat Abdulah Shah Ashabi at Makli, Thatta. He taught Islamic teaching to the people here and converted large numbers of people here into Islam. Despite his Islamic teachings, Hindus and Christians also show repect and worship in the shrines.
Despite the negative national and international media, the real Pakistan in the form of Interior-Sindh shows an empathetic, welcoming, peaceful and a generous society. Pakistan is not a country where difference is erased but where difference is helping us to fashion cooperation, co-existence and coherence.
“Together we build a better society for all.”