The ashes of 160 Hindus who lived in Pakistan have been brought to India to be immersed in river Ganga as a fulfillment of their last wishes. Hindu families who live in Pakistan do not have any direct means to submerge the urns of their loved ones in Ganga due to the difficult visa process. The “Devo Uthan Sewa Samiti” based in Delhi acts as a facilitator for such Hindu families living in Pakistan by collaborating with the “Mahant” of the 18th century Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir’ located in Karachi.
The 160 urns brought from Pakistan will be the highlight of the “15th Asthi Kalash Yatra” of “Devo Uthan Sewa Samiti” that will start on 23 September from Delhi to Haridwar.
A total of 5,000 urns from Delhi-NCR, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh will be taken to Haridwar by 500 worshippers to immerse them in the Ganga.
Explaining the sentiments behind the 160 urns from Pakistan, Vijay Sharma, general secretary, “Devo Uthan Sewa Samiti”, said: “A lot of Hindu families in Pakistan want to immerse the ashes of their beloved in the holy Ganga. But due to the complications in cross-border travel, these families find it too hard to fulfil the rites. Ramnath Mishra, the ‘Mahant’ of Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir, travelled for the first time from Karachi to Delhi in 2011 when he brought along 135 urns to be submerged in the Ganga. When he went back, his efforts found more motivators there who wanted him to continue this initiative. So he kept saving the urns for the past five years in Karachi which he has now delivered to us.” However, “Mahant” Ramnath Mishra had to go to Haridwar directly after he crossed the Wagha border because his visa has been granted only for Mumbai, Kolkata and Haridwar. Complaining about the lack of support towards “Mahant” Ramnath Mishra’s travel here, Sharma said, “We have been requesting the Ministry of Home Affairs and the External Affairs Ministry to intervene and grant permission to ‘Mahant’ Ramnath to travel to Delhi so that he can participate in the worship ceremony of the 5,000 urns before we leave for Haridwar. It would be an honour if the Mahant is able to participate in the yatra.” Home Minister Rajnath Singh had participated in the Asthi Kalash Yatra last year. Pradeep Jain, convener of the Samiti, said, “Mahant Ramnath had to leave Haridwar too, shortly after he reached there because the visa protocol required him to travel to Mumbai first and only then his visa in Haridwar will become applicable. He is our guest and his efforts to travel here for the yatra means a lot to us. All these complications do not paint a pretty picture.” In 2011, “Mahant” Ramnath Mishra had travelled with his family in a group of 11 people to Delhi. His family lives in Karachi and has been the custodian of the temple for many years now. Sharma said, “Even this year, his family wanted to travel, but their visas were not cleared which is why there are still 40-45 more urns that had to be left behind in Karachi. Some of his family members are still trying to travel to India before the Asthi Kalash Yatra and bring along the other urns in Pakistan.”
The “Devo Uthan Sewa Samiti” brochure describes itself as the “only samiti that participates in the sacred mission of providing ‘mukti’ to the souls of unidentifiable deceased whose ashes lie unclaimed in crematoriums.” The organisation aims to expand their operations across the world and collect urns of those who wanted to be immersed in the Ganga or had no one to take care of their ashes.