The Hindu pilgrims said they would take message of love and peace to India. As many as 85 Hindu pilgrims from various states of India came to Katas Raj, their holy site, on Wednesday evening and left for India on Friday. They were welcomed by District Coordination Officer (DCO) Asif Bilal Lodhi, Assistant Commissioner Choa Saidan Shah Samina Saif Niazi and other officials concerned.
Two receptions, one on Wednesday night and the other on Thursday, were held for the pilgrims.
Speaking in one of the receptions Chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Saddiqul Farooq assured the Indian pilgrims that they would always be welcomed in Pakistan with warmth and affection.
“You can visit to your holy sites whenever you want. You would always be welcomed with love,” he said.
He stressed the need of interfaith harmony.
“We should respect every religion. If we respect humanity our problems will solve,” he maintained.
He urged the pilgrims to take the message of love and peace to their country.
Shiv Partab Bajaj the leader of the pilgrims while speaking on the occasion thanked the Pakistan government for making tremendous arrangements for the pilgrims. “The love and respect which you people gave us can never be forgotten,” he said. He added that when he came first time at Katas Raj in 1982 the temples were in pathetic condition , but now the holy site had been renovated.
“These temples are not just worship places but tourist spots as well as the area (Salt Range) in which they are located is fabulous and scenic,” he maintained.
DCO Asif Bilal Lodhi while addressing the pilgrims said they would be provided every facility.
The pilgrims and their Pakistani hosts exchanged gifts.
After the ceremony the pilgrims visited different temples and took bath at the holy pond. They offered their obeisance to Lord Shiva.
Talking to Dawn many pilgrims said they visited Katas for the first time.
Amit Chadha, who came from New Delhi, said, “The place is such a wonderful that I will keep on visiting,” he added.
Parveen Rani who came from Hariyana state along with his little daughter Jhanvi and husband Bilbir Singh also expressed her desire to visit Katas Raj again and again.
Published in Dawn, November 30th , 2014