New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) For 35 long years, the ashes of 128 Hindus remained at a cremation ground in Karachi, in the hope that some day the departed souls would attain 'salvation' when their last remains are immersed in the holy Ganga.
That last wish of these people, who died in Pakistan since independence, may finally get fulfilled as their ashes arrive here Thursday.
The over three-decade-old packets and urns containing the ashes are being brought to Delhi aboard the Samjhauta Express by a voluntary organisation for their onward journey to Haridwar.
The initiative of immersing the ashes of the 128 Pakistani Hindus was taken by the Delhi-based NGO Sri Devouthan Seva Samiti (SDSS) after the head priest of the Panchmukhi Hanuman temple in Karachi, Ram Nath Mishra, informed it about the last remains.
Mishra told the organisation that the ashes of the dead were stored at the cremation ground, awaiting their immersion inthe Ganga.
'According to the wish of all these people, they wanted their ashes to be immersed in the holy river. So, we coordinated with the head priest and are satisfied that these dead people would finally get what they wished,' Anil Narendra, president of SDSS, told IANS.
According to Narendra, the ashes left Karachi Tuesday by the Samjhauta Express and would reach Lahore Wednesday. 'These would finally arrive at the Old Delhi Railway station in the capital Jan 20 and would then be taken to Haridwar Feb 12 by road, accompanied by tableaux based on religious themes and a band,' he said.
'The ashes will be accompanied by the family members of the dead as well as the Karachi temple's head priest,' added Narendra.
It wasn't easy for the NGO to persuade both the Indian and Pakistani governments to facilitate fulfilling the last wish of the dead. The Pakistani government refused to give the required permissions and visas to the family members of the dead. It took them four years to get all the clearances.
He said his organisation has over the past eight years been immersing ashes of around 80,000 Hindus in the Ganga from all over the country. But it is for the first time that ashes are being brought from Pakistan for immersion in the river, he noted.
'As per Hindu beliefs, the road to salvation of the dead is through the immersion of their ashes in the Ganga. Even though it is a painful time for the family, at least the departed person's last wish gets fulfilled,' Narendra said.