The freedom to celebrate their traditional Hindu festivals, like Janmashtami, without fear of violent attacks is one of the main reasons why poor Hindu families come to India, leaving everything behind in Pakistan. At Sewa Nyaya Uththan Foundation (SNUF), we ensure that such children from such families can experience the joy of celebrating Hindu festivals, irrespective of their financial circumstances.
For example, recently, SNUF celebrated Janmashtami at its Jodhpur free coaching centre for refugee children. Our founder, Swati Goel Sharma, prepared the event’s outline and arranged suitable activities for them. Dilip Kumar, a team member and a coach at the centre, executed her plan and beautifully decorated the venue with colourful decorations, balloons, and festive literature.
At last, on the much-awaited festive day, children came to the centre dressed in traditional attire. Among them was a 9-month-old baby dressed as Bal Krishna that was the cynosure of all eyes. The festivities commenced with prayers to Lord Krishna, followed by Bhajans in his praise.
Thereafter, little devotees presented Vidya Bharti and Vishal presented a captivating enactment of Lord Krishna’s meeting with Sudama. Through this play, they conveyed a message of friendship and equality to everyone.
Later, the SNUF team distributed ‘prasad’ to all the attendees at the end of the programme. The team members and students had these sacred offerings together joyously.
Why is this Janmashtami celebration significant?
These children mostly come from Hindu Bhil families that are an economically backward tribe in Pakistan, where minorities don’t get equal rights and opportunities. These families are highly vulnerable to attacks, abductions, shootouts and rapes by the majority community there.
As the state fails to protect them from these atrocities, these families have no option but to migrate to India. For that journey, they have to sell their homes, lands and belongings there at unfair rates. That money is hardly enough to cover the expenses of passports and visas.
Yet, after completing their formalities at the Atari-Wagah border, they enter India. They settle down in make-shift shelters and face many challenges here. Even then, they don’t give up on their dreams for a brighter future for their next generations. For such families, celebrating their traditional festival in a safe environment is a priceless privilege.
To these displaced Hindu families and their children, India is indeed a heaven of freedom where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high.