The ancient Panchh Mukhhi Hanuman Temple in Karachi
10/10/2016 5:17:04 PM
|written By : Reema Abbasi|
Although trite, but cannot be said enough — we celebrate God and let man-made laws kill his children.
In July, Pakistan lost another (Hindu) young son, Satish Kumar, 18, in Mirpur Mathelo, to assailants who sought to avenge an alleged blasphemy act committed elsewhere, earlier that day.
A rightfully enraged community erupted into strikes and protests. However, soon after, one of the country’s oldest Hindu temples, Panchh Mukhi Hanuman Mandir in Karachi, celebrated the monsoon festival of Teej or Naag Panchhmi. And the most celebrated priest of the community, Ram Nath Maharaj, the temple keeper, conducted special prayers for this beleaguered land.
The 1,500-year-old Panchh Mukhi Hanuman Temple nestles in a nook of Soldier Bazar and is Karachi’s oldest existing edifice. However, these bygone epochs are not the reason for its timelessness — Hindus see it as Hanuman’s only home on earth with his non man-made deity.
The womb chamber where the blue-and-white eight-foot statue stands, marks the ancient spot. According to Ramnath Maharaj, this temple and Shiva’s Kataas Raj are mentioned in Al Biruni’s Kitab-ul-Hind. Legend has it that an ancient priest, Panchamdas Guru Maharaj, performed years of prayers here and when the earth was removed from his seating place, this idol emerged on a Tuesday.
By the bustling main road, an older, darkened by decay, rock archway hangs over a narrow passage of doorways and stalls laden with prasad, mangalsutras, bindis, sindoors, brassware and religious posters.
In the same row resides a small, somber alcove — the oldest spot in the temple’s original plot. It is safeguarded by a grille and is a store of condiments for daily rituals. An ancient brick pit sits in its centre with a time-worn Trishul — this was the site of havans before the temple was built and is still lit on days devoted to the God.
It is a Saturday, the day of Hanuman; the lane, homes and temple are iridescent with festivity and the rituals of Teej.
Upon entrance, one is struck by the intricately carved yellow stone sanctum in the centre — an epicentre of lyrical buzz, crammed with over 700 devotees.