Navratri in Afghanistan

T’is the season for navratri. Dandiya and garba all over India and everywhere Hindus dwell on this earth. I remember dandiyas used to be a big event in Bombay. Most apartment complexes had dandiya nites and if you live in one of the fancy complexes, you all of a sudden had a 100 friends as navratri got closer.

The craze continues in the US too, and indian newspapers here are filled with ads about Falguni Pathak performing in New Jersey.

Amidst all this, I came across a very interesting article about how Afghanistan’s Historic Hindu Temples Get Busy For Navaratri

[via :hindu.org]

The article notes

With the onset ofthe nine-day festival period of Navaratri, Kabul’s ancient Hindu temples are buzzing with a record number of devotees of all faiths. The focal attraction is Asamai temple. Hundreds of Afghanistan’s Hindus and Sikhs as well as Indians employed in reconstruction projects pay their obeisance there every day. The hill is named Asamai after Asha, the Goddess of hope said to be residing on the hilltop since time immemorial.

This celebration is in many ways a small indicator of how Afghanistan is crawling back into the erstwhile civilied society it once was. Alas, this comes after a lot of horror stories the worst one being the demolition of the Bamiyan Buddha. Here is an excellent photo album of the Buddha statues before the destruction

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, October 5, 2005: With the onset ofthe nine-day festival period of Navaratri, Kabul’s ancient Hindu temples are buzzing with a record number of devotees of all faiths. The focal attraction is Asamai temple. Hundreds of Afghanistan’s Hindus and Sikhs as well as Indians employed in reconstruction projects pay their obeisance there every day. The hill is named Asamai after Asha, the Goddess of hope said to be residing on the hilltop since time immemorial.

Legend goes that the Akhand Jyoti or continuous fire there has been burning uninterrupted for over 4,000 years. Amazingly, both the temple and the jyoti have survived numerous bloody wars for supremacy over Kabul, says this article. Two large halls with a capacity of about 1,000 persons form part of the Asamai complex, commonly used for religious congregations on festivals like Navaratri and Diwali.

Kabul boasts another ancient temple complex–Harshri Nath–with temples devoted to Hindu deities Siva, Saraswati and Ganesha. The Harshri Nath temple attracts several Hindu families who returned to Kabul over the past four years. Several Sikh families also visit the temple every week to pray alongside Hindus. Kabul’s third temple is located in the Shor Bazaar area once the hub of the trade in clothes, currency and dry fruits that is dominated by hindus and Sikhs.

Dedicated to God Siva, the small temple miraculously survived severe shelling during the Civil War, even as the entire Shor Bazaar was reduced to rubble. Though the local Hindu and Sikh population has dropped to about 5,000 from close to 20,000, the temple is a favorite with scores of Indians currently engaged in reconstruction work.

About Afghan Hindus

http://www.afghanhindu.info/
http://www.afghanhindu.com/

3 Comments

  1. nameeta October 10, 2005

    Amazing photos!! i had no idea that these ancient temples and sculptures survived in Afghanistan!! Missing Navaratri badly. so far nothing happening in Ireland!

  2. sreekanth August 24, 2010

    it wasqulte interesting and curious to learn about asamai temple plz send it in detail

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