Pakistan’s Biggest Hindu Festival Brings Mountains Alive

Preparations are underway in Balochistan for the annual Hinglaj Yatra festival, a three-day pilgrimage expected to draw over 100,000 Hindu devotees. The Hindu festival is considered the largest celebration in Pakistan. It will see worshippers converge on the Hingol National Park to participate in religious rituals and seek blessings at the sacred Hinglaj Mata temple.

Over 100,000 Hindu pilgrims are set to embark on a three-day journey to one of their most sacred sites in Pakistan. This Hindu festival is known as the Hinglaj Yatra. The festival transforms the rugged landscape of Hingol National Park in Balochistan province into a vibrant celebration.

Despite being a minority in Pakistan, Hindus make up 4.4 million of the population. The ancient cave temple of Hinglaj Mata attracts pilgrims from far and wide. Moreover, many travel hundreds of kilometers from places like Hyderabad and Karachi.

The pilgrimage isn’t easy. Pilgrims often had to walk over rocky terrain, sometimes barefoot, to reach the temple, believed to be the resting place of Goddess Sati. However, Kanwal Kumar, visiting for the first time with her husband, expresses her wish for a child, believing in the blessings of Hinglaj Mata.

However, tensions between Pakistan and India can make openly practicing the Hindu faith challenging, despite its allowance in Pakistan. Versimal Divani, the general secretary of Hinglaj Mata, hopes for easier access for Hindus worldwide to visit the temple. It can be seen as an opportunity for cultural exchange and economic growth.

Ethnicentricies of the festival

The festival itself is a colorful affair amidst the desert-like conditions. Pilgrims perform rituals at the mud volcano, climb hundreds of stairs, and make offerings at the ancient cave temple. Moreover, Maharaj Gopal, the temple’s senior religious leader, emphasizes its significance in Hinduism. The festival also promises forgiveness of sins for those who visit and worship during these three days.

Even after dark, the festivities continue. Hinglaj Mata temple is illuminated with fairy lights as pilgrims seek blessings, some holding up babies for divine intervention. Moreover, stalls selling snacks, drinks, and religious items pop up, turning the park into a bustling marketplace.

For many, the Hinglaj Yatra is not just a pilgrimage but a profound spiritual experience that brings communities together and keeps ancient traditions alive in the heart of Pakistan’s mountains.

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