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Cross-border religious tourism the prize in Indo-Pak ties

FEATURE

Singer Anup Jalota’s bhajan ‘prabhuji tum chandan hum pani’ played in the background as a saffron-robed priest purified Krishna, Radha and Hanuman’s idols with milk for their installation at Lahore’s Krishna Temple in February 2007.

The temple on Ravi Road in Pakistan’s cultural capital was packed with devotees, many of whom occupied the corridor and stairs to witness the unusual murti sthaapna amid Hindu chants, reports The Economic Times.

The India-Pakistan detente (2003-2008) had allowed a group of Indian pilgrims to carry out the first sthaapna at the temple since Partition virtually emptied out west Punjab of Hindus and Sikhs and the region’s eastern part of Muslims.

The sthaapna was perhaps the little-known high-point of the thaw before the attacks on Mumbai derailed the process in 2008.

The inclusion of religious tourism now in the recently-announced India-Pakistan dialogue should allow the two countries to pick up the threads on this front to promote greater people-to-people contact.

The 2005 restoration of Katas Raj temple complex in Pakistan’s Punjab provides the blueprint for taking the process forward.

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