Hidden Neighbourhoods: Narayanpura

This is a guest post by Tehreem Iqbal and is part of her book project for her mini-thesis in order to highlight the importance of Hindu culture and the religious ventures taking place in Pakistan.

Special thanks to the residents of Narayanpura, Karachi for providing information regarding Hinglaj Yatra and the Rath making process!


Narayanpura

Narayanpura, an old neighbourhood in the area called Ranchor Lines, is an epitome of Karachi’s vast diversity. For centuries, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs have all lived here next to each other, celebrating each other’s festivals with full enthusiasm as their own.Β The inhabitants are 75% Hindu, 15% Christian and 10% Sikh. The neighbourhood has seven temples, two churches, and an impressive Gurdwara. Narayanpura is full of life and colours with its vast cultural diversity.

The emphasis of this small project was the Hindu Yatra (pilgrimage) preparations that take place in this small community of Narayanpura.

Hinglaj Yatra

Hinglaj Yatra is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages in Hinduism that takes place every year. Pilgrims from all over Pakistan and India travel to Hingol in Balochistan to the temple of Mata Hinglaj known as the Nani Mandir. The Nani Mandir is located 250 kms away from Karachi and the majority of the pilgrims depart from Karachi as their central point. The largest number of devoted pilgrims come from Tharparkar area. People go via bus, car and even by foot. They take their food, beverages, and other offerings along with them to the Goddess Hinglaj at Nani Mandir. Along with these, the Rath, which is the Goddess’es heavily decorated chariot is taken as well.

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The beautifully adorned Rath (chariot)

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Hop on to a photo-journalistic journey below to Narayanpura where a multi-cultural community prepares for a Hindu pilgrimage!

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The residents comprising of a multi-cultural community of Hindus, Christians as well as Sikhs, prepare for this glorious pilgrimage together with full enthusiasm!
Hinglaj Mata Rath by Children of Narayanpura
Children at the community make their own Raths and send to Hingol as a tribute to Hinglaj Mata. Leaders (as seen here): Swamil and Krish πŸ™‚
pandit marks yatrees forehead with sindhoor (vermillion)
The Pandit places Sindhoor (Vermillion) on the Rath and marks each Yatrees forehead with it.
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The residents decorate the Goddess’s chariot and Hinglaj Mata’s idol is made to sit on the throne. She is surrounded by garlands and loads of flowers, chunri cloth, candles and agar battis.
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Pooja before the Yatra: The families come forward to the Rath, perform a pooja (prayer), and place their offerings, that is, coconuts and flowers in front of Mata Hinglaj. They light agar battis placed on the rath and put floral garlands around Mataji.
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The Rath is decorated with Chunri cloth, sequins work, embroidery and curtained with beaded strings. It is the result of an entire month of hardwork and efforts put in by the whole community. The Chunri cloth has great significance is also worn by the pilgrims.
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The Rath has a lot of artistic detailing done. It is well lit with LED lights, candles and fairy lights. A speaker is attached on the back side for music and other announcements. The raths also have their own electricity generators installed in order to keep the lights active all through the journey!
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Men play active role in adorning this grand chariot and call it their way of wishing well for the Goddess. Women also actively participate in the Yatra and mostly contribute in the feasting bit.

Sun meri devi parvat vasini, tera paar na paaya ||
Paan Su[ari dhwaja nariyal, le teri bhent chadhaya ||

Suwa Choli tere ang viraje, kesar tilak lagaya ||
Nange paanv tere akbar akar, sone ka chhatra chadhaya ||

Oonche parvat bana devalay, neechay shahar basaya ||
Satyug, treta, dwapar madhye kaliyug raj sawaya ||

Dhoop, deep, naivedya, aarti mohan bhog lagaya ||
Dhyanu bhakt maiya tera gun gaave manvaanchhit phal paaya ||

Hope you enjoyed this photo-journalistic journey.


About the Author

Tehreem Iqbal is a student at Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. She is a multi-talented illustrator, graphic designer and photographer. This project was part of her mini-thesis at her school. Head over to her Facebook and Instagram to know more about her!


+ All photos are by Tehreem, herself. If publishing elsewhere, please credit the original photographer (common courtesy which is non-existent nowadays).

+ Re-sharing/re-blogging this article on your website is permissible provided you link the original post as well.

 

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