Hindu couple ties knot outside Pak press club
A Hindu couple tied the knot without any pomp and ceremony outside a press club in southern Pakistan to protest the lack of a law for registering the marriages of the minority community.
Mukhesh and Padma walked around a ceremonial fire seven times outside the press club in Hyderabad, the second largest city in Sindh province.
The ceremony was devoid of the "pomp and splendour which is the essence of traditional Hindu weddings" as the couple wanted to highlight the minority community's demand for laws that register their marriages, 'The Express Tribune' newspaper reported.
"Since 1947, Hindu couples have not been legally accepted as husband and wife," said Guru Sukh Dev, who solemnised the wedding.
"Consequently, many domestic, social and psychological problems arise for Hindu families, especially for the women," he said. The marriage was organised by Ramesh Mal, a leader of scheduled caste communities. Since the creation of Pakistan, there have been no laws for Hindu marriages, he said.
"The Pakistani government should take a cue from India and introduce laws to protect Hindu marriages," said Mal. Hindus have problems obtaining national identity cards and passports, registering married women, and conducting property transfers. Even travelling inside the country becomes difficult, he said.
Mal said, "many young girls from his community are abducted, forced to convert to other religions and forcefully married". This happens because laws to protect Hindu girls do not exist in Pakistan, he contended.
Protesters who attended the recent wedding shouted slogans and urged President Asif Ali Zardari to issue an ordinance for registering Hindu marriages until a law is enacted. One of the protestors, Sapna Devi, said she had been married for 17 years but had no legal evidence of the union.
"God forbid, if he (husband) passes away, I will be unable to claim his property," she explained. Mukesh and Padma said that though their wedding may have seemed strange because it was performed in an unusual manner, it marked the beginning of their new life.
The purpose of getting married in this way was to show the world that Hindus were deprived of a basic right, they said. Referring to the 1998 census, Mal said scheduled caste Hindus, who led the protest, comprise more than one-third of the 3.4 million Hindus in Pakistan.
He said parliament has eight minority lawmakers to represent the Hindus but their fight for a marriage registration law was yet to produce results.