By Aftab Ahmad/Geo TV
Peshawar (Pakistan) December 24: With over a dozen quarters in its premises is the Christian Colony in Gor Gathri tehsil of the provincial metropolis where Christmas is celebrated by its Christian and Hindu residents alike.
“Our families have been living here even before the Partition [in 1947],” Ramesh alias Gullu, told Geo.tv, as he painted a wall green in preparation for Christmas.
Ramesh said they celebrate Christmas with full vigour and also buy new clothes to enjoy the festivities with their fellow residents.
But this mix of a community is not only accepting towards different religious festivities, they also respect each other’s place of worship.
The colony premises houses a temple, Balmik Hindu Mandir, where Ramesh is a priest and a church.
“We cooperate with them and they do the same,” Ramesh, who belongs to the Hindu community said about the Christian residents whom they share the premises of the colony with.
Besides, Christmas, Easter, Diwali and Holi, the urs of a Muslim saint is also commemorated in Christian Colony.
The premises houses the mausoleum of a Muslim saint, Shaheed Pehlwan Sarkar. “We mark the urs on the 11th day of the 11th month, for which we also wash the mazaar,” Ramesh said. “We collect money from each house and distribute free food among the Muslims who come here for the urs.”
Christian Colony is based of 19 quarters where over 35 families live together just like families do in a single house.
Another resident of the colony, Ishaq Maseeh, said their families have been living in the quarters for over 80 years now.
“The Hindus in our locality sing our carols on Christmas just like they recite hymns on their religious festivals,” Ishaq said.
Above all, they are also willing to adjust their prayer timings just to not disturb the others during their worship session.
“Oftentimes our prayer timings are the same, but we move them a little in respect of the other’s faith,” Ishaq said.
However, the harmony is not confined to the premises of Christian Colony. Just outside its door is a mosque and many houses of Muslims, with whom the residents of Christian Colony have never had any major clashed.
“This mosque you see in front, I painted it before Eid,” Ishaq said, pointing towards Masjid Ghous-e-Azam situated right outside the colony. “I did not charge anyone any money for painting the mosque.”
The Gor Gathri area of Peshawar is also home to an archaeological complex where places of worship of different religions are situated in the same boundary. The areas surrounding the complex are where people from different religious backgrounds have lived for years, also doing business in the market nearby.
(The featured picture at the top shows Ramesh, a Hindu, paints a wall in preparation for Christmas)