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Eunuchs perform ‘shraddha karma’ at Varanasi for the departed souls after several hundred years

After 100 years eunuchs pay mass reverence to their ancestors at Kashi

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Ghats in Varanasi. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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VARANASI, Sept 24 2016: It’s a rare event that is said to be happening after more than several hundred years. Eunuchs from across the country have converged in this holy town to do the ‘shraddha karma’ for their departed brethren during ‘pitrapaksh’, the period during which Hindus pay respects to their ancestors.

The eunuchs, led by their religious head, Mahamandaleshwar Swami Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, visited the fabled Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Maa Annapurna temple to propitiate the gods. She, along with the other eunuchs, did ‘dugdhabhishek’ (offering of milk) and ‘shodashopchar’ puja at the temple.

Acharya Srikant Mishra of the Vishwanath temple told IANS that 11 litres of milk was offered to Baba Vishwanath after which the eunuchs were gifted ‘manga vastra’ and ‘prasad’. The eunuchs then prayed at the Maa Annapurna Darbaar, where they offered ‘kumkum’ (vermillion) to the deity and prayed for the prosperity of all.

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The eunuchs, after doing the puja at the banks of Ganga river, also prayed for safety of the jawans along the border. Hundreds of eunuchs then performed the ‘shraddha karma’ puja for their ancestors and prayed for peace to the departed souls.

The eunuchs offering the puja said they were doing so as they wanted their forefathers to be at peace like other departed souls.

“We were not able to do the puja for many years as at most places we are ostracised by the pundits, and it was only after we planned a group discussion that we came together here,” said one of the eunuchs.

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A septugenarian eunuch informed IANS that the shraddha was being done only for the second time. The first was done during the Mughal era.

“Through generations, we have been informed that the last shraddha karma was done doing the Mughaliya Sultanat,” she added.

“Hum to bas itni prarthna ke saath aye hain ki is janam mein jo bhi bura sahi hua ho hammare sath, agle janam mein na ho, hammer saathiyon ko mukti mile aur voh janta mein sadharan jeevan vyateet karin (We are here to simply pray for our gurus and friends who are no more so that they take a proper, normal birth in the next life),” said another ageing eunuch, who rued how being one was a torment.

Pitra Paksha is a 16-day lunar period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or tarpan. Eunuchs pointed out that they have faced problems ever since they were born.

“We all have a troubled life and we just wish that the after life is better and we take rebirth under normal conditions, as normal human beings…This is all what we seek from Baba Vishwanath and Ganga Maiyya,” Shalini, a eunuch who was performing shraddha for her late partner, told IANS. She added that since Kashi was considered a city where everyone attained ‘moksha’ (salvation) she was confident that the voice of the hundreds of her community would be heard. (IANS)

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  • Anubhuti Gupta

    Finally some integration of eunuch’s into everyday life. The issue of the living lives like an outcast is one that should be taken up more

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The Other Side of “Hindu Pakistan”

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province

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Hinduism
The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures.

Sagarneel Sinha

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country. BJP didn’t let the opportunity go by launching a scathing attack on Tharoor and his party for insulting Hindus and Indian democracy, forcing the Congress party to distance itself from its own MP’s comment. Only one year is left for the next general elections and in a politically polarised environment such comments serve as masala for political battles where perception is an important factor among the electorates.

Actually, Tharoor, through his statement, is trying to convey that “India may become a
fundamentalist state just like its neighbour — Pakistan”. Tharoor is a shrewd politician and his remarks are mainly for political gains. The comments refer to our neighbour going to polls on 25 th of this month which has a long history of ignoring minorities where the state institutions serve as a tool for glorifying the religious majority bloc and ridiculing the minorities. This compelled me to ponder about the participation of the Hindus — the largest minority bloc of the country, in the upcoming polls.

There are total 37 reserved seats for minorities in Pakistan — 10 in the National Assembly
(Lower House), 4 in the Senate (Upper House) and 23 in various state legislatures — 9 in the Sindh assembly, 8 in Punjab and 3 each in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistani Hindus, like other minorities have the dual voting rights in principle. But the reality is they have no rights to vote for their own representatives as the seats are reserved — means the distribution of these seats are at the discretion of parties’ leadership. Practically speaking, these reserved seats are meant for political parties not for minorities. In case of general seats, it is almost impossible for a Hindu candidate to win until and unless supported by the mainstream parties of the country. The bitter truth is — the mainstream parties have always ignored the Hindus by hesitating to field them from general seats. In 2013, only one Hindu candidate — Mahesh Kumar from the Tharparkar district won from a general seat, also became the only minority candidate to make it to the National Assembly from a general seat. This time too, he is nominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — a major centre-left party of Pakistan. However, there are no other Hindu candidates for a general seat from the two other significant centre-right parties — former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and cricketer turned politician Imran Khan’s Tehreek-E-Insaf (PTI). Although, there is a Hindu candidate named Sanjay Berwani from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) — a Karachi (capital of Sindh province) based secular centrist party of Pakistan.

Shashi_tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is
elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country.

The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures. It means that despite the state’s hostile policies, Hindus have been able to remain stable in a highly Islamist polarised society. 90% of the Hindu population of the country lives in the Sindh province. Hindu population in Umerkot,Tharparkar and Mirpur Khas districts of the Sindh province stands at 49%, 46% and 33% respectively — making them the only three substantial Hindu districts of the country. The three districts have 5 National Assembly and 13 Provincial seats. However, Hindus have never well represented from these seats.

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province. Many of them belong to the Schedule caste — the Dalit community. A recent report based on Pakistan Election Commission’s data says that out of 2.5 lakh women of Tharparkar district, around 2 lakh of them are not included in the electoral list — means that they are not entitled to vote for the upcoming general elections. All over the country, there are about 1.21 crore women voters who will not be able to vote in the elections. The reason is the lack of an identity card. Most of them are poor who are unable to pay the expenses required for an identity card. This has made difficult for independent Hindu Dalit candidates like Sunita Parmar and Tulsi Balani as most of their supporters will not be voting in the upcoming polls. In Tharparkar district, around 33% percent are the Hindu Dalits — brushed aside by the mainstream parties. The reserved seat candidates are based on party nominations, where mainly the upper caste Hindus are preferred. Radha Bheel, a first time contestant and the chairperson of Dalit Suhaag Tehreek (DST), a Dalit organisation, says that the fight is for the rights of the lower socio-economic class and scheduled castes. Sunita, Tulsi, Radha and the other independent Hindu candidates know
that the possibility of winning from the general seats is bleak but for them the contest is for their own identity — an identity never recognised by the political parties and the establishment of Pakistan.