In an unprecedented move, the government of Sindh on Saturday notified Mar 24 as a public holiday throughout the province to mark the occasion of Holi – a religious festival of the Hindu community.
A spokesman for the Chief Minister House told Dawn.com that in the past, only the Hindu community was given a holiday on Holi.
“This is the first time Holi has been declared a public holiday anywhere in Pakistan.”
The move comes days after the National Assembly adopted a resolution to take steps to declare Holi, Diwali and Easter as holidays for minorities.
The resolution moved independently by PML-N MNA Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani called for national holidays on Diwali, Holi and Easter.
But despite the passage of the resolution in the NA, no notification was issued by the federal interior ministry officially declaring holidays on Holi, Diwali and Easter.
Holi, a popular Hindu spring festival ─ also termed as the festival of colours ─ is observed in Pakistan at the end of the winter season on the last full moon of the lunar month.
Revellers spray coloured powder and water on each other, dance, and distribute sweets during Holi celebrations.
Pakistani Hindus are Hindus of full or partial Pakistani descent. Constituting 2.00% of Pakistan’s population, the last Pakistan census divided Hindus into Jāti (1.6%) and scheduled castes (0.25%).
After Pakistan gained independence from Britain on 14 August 1947, 4.4 million of the country’s Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while 4.1 million Muslims moved from India to live in Pakistan. The 1998 census of Pakistan recorded less than 2.5 million Hindus. The overwhelming majority of Hindus in Pakistan are concentrated in Sindh province.
In 1951, Hindus constituted 22% of the Pakistani population (this includes East Pakistan, modern day Bangladesh),which made Dominion of Pakistan second biggest Hindu-population country after India. In the 1951 census, West Pakistan had 1.6% Hindu population, while East Pakistan (modern Bangladesh) had 22.05%. By 1997, the percentage of Hindus remained stable at 1.6% in Pakistan, while it dropped to 10.2% in Bangladesh.
According to the 1998 Pakistan Census, caste Hindus constitute about 1.6 percent of the total population of Pakistan and about 6.6% in province of Sindh. The Pakistan Census separates Schedule Castes from the main body of Hindus who make up a further 0.25% of national population.