KARACHI - With `Eid around the corner, Pakistanis Hindu businessmen have come up to assist their Muslim countrymen by offering special discounts on their products to enable poor Muslims a chance to celebrate the feast that crowns the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
For me, the month of Ramadan, and `Eid are equally noble as our holy festivals Dewali and Dashera are, Parthu Narayan Das, 38, a native Pakistani Hindu businessman who resides in old Ranhchor Line area of southern port city of Karachi, where minority Hindus and majority Muslims have been residing together for over a century, told OnIslam.net.
That's why we have offered special discounts on clothes, shoes, imitation jewelry, edible items, and other Eid-related commodities for lower and middle income brackets, Parthu, who runs a small imitation jewelry business in Ranchor Line, the city's one of the oldest localities, added.
`Eid Al-Fitr is one the two main Islamic religious festivals along with `Eid Al-Adha.
During `Eid days, families and friends exchange visits to express well wishes and children, wearing new clothes bought especially for `Eid, enjoy going out in parks and open fields.
Sharing his Muslim neighbors in their celebrations, Parthu has offered 20 to 50 per cent discount on different varieties of imitation jewelry, widely used by lower and middle classes.
Being businessmen, I know how soaring prices have affected the buying power of a common man. I know I can earn little more if I do not offer any discounts, but it will be at the cost of our century-long customs, Parthu, whose family had settled in Karachi over a hundred years ago maintained.
This exercise has been continuing for last many decades as Ramadan brings a mix of reverence and joy to our locality that gives us an opportunity to come closer to each other irrespective of religion and cast, he said.
Not only me, but several other Hindu businessmen and shopkeepers are offering Ramadan and `Eid discounts in different parts of the city to help needy Muslims, Parthu added.
Teeko Mal is another Hindu trader who offers special Ramadan and `Eid discounts on different items.
A majority of population residing in my locality belong to low income bracket. I cannot do much for them, but at least during Ramadan and on Eid, I try to give them a little relief by offering discounts on different items, Teeko, who hails from a native business family, told OnIslam.net.
We (he and his family) never distinguish between Eid and Dewali. Both festivals are ours as we treat Muslims as our brothers and sisters. Therefore, Ramadan is not a month of business for us, but the month of altruism and brotherhood, he added.
Muslim residents of the Muslim-Hindu localities expressed gratitude to Hindu businessmen for this gesture.
Back-breaking inflation and price-hike have made our lives miserable. We otherwise found it difficult to cope with the Ramadan expenses, if we would not have found special discounts on this store, Nasreen Bibi, an elderly local woman who was busy shopping at Teeko's mart told OnIslam.net.
Teeko is the third generation of his family that has been carrying this tradition, Nasreen who has been residing in Jacob Line for last four decades, informed.
We are thankful to him, and his family who have continuously been making things easier for us in Ramadan and on `Eid, she said with a smile on her wrinkled face.
The tradition of offering discounts during feasts runs for long years among Karachi Muslims and Hindus.
We (Muslims and Hindus) have been residing together here for last one hundred years, Parthu said.
Affluent Muslims and other charity organizations help needy Hindus in the form of cash, and ration on the occasion of our festivals. And in return, we do the same in the form of special discounts during Ramadan, and on `Eids.
Aqeel Silawat, a member of Silawat community, the Karachi's oldest community based in Ranchor Line agreed.
Hindus and Muslims are two integral parts of our locality, Silawat who plans to buy imitation jewelry from Parthu's shop for his daughters and wife told OnIslam.net.
This gesture of help on holy occasions has promoted religious harmony, and tolerance in our locality.
An old neighbor of Parthu as well, Silawat recalled that thousands of Hindus had migrated to India from Karachi at the time of partition in 1947, but because of the culture of helping each other in the hour of need or otherwise, persuaded them to stay at their own soil.
They are very much amongst us, and we treat them as our own in the name of humanity, a humble Silawat maintained.
This is the true message of Ramadan and `Eid.