- Ramanath Maharaj, a Karachi temple priest comes to Haridwar to immerse the ashes of 160 Pakistani-Hindus in the Holy river of Ganga
- Most ashes are about 3-4 years old and some 40 were still left behind at the ‘ashram’ in Karachi
- Tedious visa process and complicated bilateral ties between the two countries makes it very difficult for Pakistani Hindus to get their desired send off
New Delhi, Sept 17, 2016: Carrying the ‘asthi-kalash’ of no less than 160 Pakistani Hindus Ramanath Maharaj ,a priest in Karachi is set to immerse them in the holy river of Ganga in Haridwar.
These ashes of these Pakistani Hindus will be immersed in the Ganga at Haridwar on September 24, the seventh day of Pitru Paksha, the day Hindus pay homage to their deceased and forefathers.
Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple which is said to be about 1500 years old and said to have a ‘natural’ idol of Hanuman has a high religious value among Hindus worldwide. It is for the same reason it is approached by many people expressing their desiring for their relatives ashes to be immersed in Ganga. The ashes are kept at the 400-year-old Sondari Shamshan or Asthi Ashram in Karachi, which is near the temple,” said Ramanath.
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Regrettably about more than 40 ‘asthi-kalash’ still remain in the Sondari Shamshan. “We could not carry them all because just two of us — out of 10 other priests and sewaks (helpers) were granted visas,” Maharaj told IANS.
“Our visa applications were rejected by the Indian High Commission three times. The visas of eight others is still pending. If they are also granted visa by the Pitru Paksha, then they will arrive with 40 more asthi kalash from the Karachi shamshan,” the priest added.
After Maharaj crossed into India through the Wagah border with his nephew Kabir Kumar this thursday evening, he was received by volunteers of a Delhi-based organisation, Shri Devodhan Sewa Samiti (SDSS). Since he was not granted permission to travel to Delhi, Ramnath said he went directly towards Haridwar from Punjab.
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Speaking to IANS, Ramnath recalled his last visit to India in 2011 when he arrived with 135 asthi kalash, some as old as 30 years. For this reason most ashes even this time were three to four years old waiting to immersed in Ganga.
The priest said that recently both the temple and cremation ground were renovated with the help of the Pakistan government.
– prepared by Anubhuti Gupta of Newsgram with inputs from IANS. Twitter: @anuB_11