Justice Katju Urges Joint Holi Celebrations in Pakistan and Bangladesh

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Holi, the festival of colour, is falling on 25th March this year. I appeal to Pakistanis and Bangladeshis of all communities to celebrate it together.

Justice Katju Urges Joint Holi Celebrations in Pakistan and Bangladesh

Before 1857 Hindus would participate in Eid and Muharram, and Muslims in Holi and Diwali together, and there was no communal feeling among them. There were no communal riots or animosity till that time.

In 1857 the Great Mutiny broke out, in which Hindus and Muslims jointly fought against the British. After suppressing the Mutiny the British decided that the only way to control and rule over India was divide and rule, that is, create animosity between Hindus and Muslims

I may here give a historical account of an incident which occurred before 1857

Inn the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Avadh, the capital of which was Lucknow, Muharram and Holi once fell on the same day. Muharram is an occasion of ghami or sorrow (for Imam Husain, grandson of the Prophet and his 72 followers who were killed in the battle of Karbala by the forces of the tyrant Yazid) while Holi is an occasion of celebration (the festival of colours, marking the beginning of spring).

The Hindus of Lucknow decided not to celebrate Holi that year out of respect for the sentiments of their Muslim brothers and sisters, who were in grief.

The Nawab took out the tazia from the Bada Imambada in Lucknow in a procession and buried it in Karbala, a site in Lucknow with the same name as the place where Imam Husain was martyred. Having done so, he asked why people were not playing Holi. After being told the reason, the Nawab said that since our Hindu brethren have respected the sentiments of Muslims, it is also the duty of the Muslims to respect the sentiments of Hindus, and declared that Holi must be played the same day. And he was the first to start playing Holi and it was played all over Avadh by both Hindus and Muslims, although it was also Muharram.

The Moghuls and other Muslim rulers and their subjects ( including Muslims ) would celebrate and play Holi with great gusto. There are many accounts and paintings to prove this, as given below.

After 1857 the British, through their local agents, propagated the idea that Holi was only a Hindu festival, and it was unislamic to celebrate it,  and so many Muslims stopped playing it. 

It is high time now that this false propaganda be put an end to, and all people in the Indian subcontinent again start celebrating each others festivals, including Holi, which is a symbol of our composite ‘Ganga Jamuna tehzeeb’

In this connection, here is my interview by my Pakistani friend, Sajjad Azhar Pirzada, a journalist based in Lahore, on Holi

 Here is a beautiful poem on Holi by the great Urdu poet, Nazir Akbaradi

And here are some Pakistani youth, both Hindu and Muslim, celebrating Holi

I was pained to learn that a few years back the Pakistan Higher Education Commission banned Holi celebrations in Universities, calling them ‘Unislamic’, when students of Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad ( both Hindus and Mulims ) celebrated it.

I appeal to Pakistani ( and Bangladeshi ) youth, particularly Muslims, to defy such a silly ban if it is again imposed this year, and jointly celebrate Holi this year with their Hindu brothers and sisters, with great enthusiasm, fervour and verve, and thus give a blow to religious bigotry, which is plaguing our sub continent.

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