Provincial government is the first to mark public holiday for Hindu festival following Parliament resolution.
Sindh’s provincial government has announced a public holiday to celebrate Holi next week, the first time the Hindu “festival of colors” will be officially marked in Pakistan.
The move comes days after the federal Parliament passed a non-binding resolution that called for the country to observe Hindu and Christian holidays. “We have announced a public holiday across the province on March 24 for the festival of Holi,” said Maula Bakhsh Chandio, a senior aide to the province’s chief minister Qaim Ali Shah.
A government circular that was tweeted by Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari, daughter of the ex-president Asif Ali Zardari, added that all government bodies except essential services would be off for the day.
Pakistan’s Hindus make up around two percent of the country’s 200 million people and mostly live in Sindh province. Christians account for roughly 1.6 percent of the population.
Religious minorities have long faced economic and social discrimination though there are signs the government is now attempting to improve its track record.
The ancient Hindu festival of Holi, which heralds the end of winter and the victory of good over evil, is marked with a national public holiday in India and sees revelers pour onto the streets. Celebrated mainly in India, Nepal and other countries with large Hindu populations, it falls on the last full moon of winter.