Lahore: Diwali, the festival of lights was celebrated enthusiastically this time in Pakistan as the federal government officially patronised the Hindu festival especially in Punjab province.
For the first time, the Senate observed a holiday on the occasion of Diwali.
Not lagging behind, the other mainstream parties including Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf also held separate functions to celebrate Diwali along with Hindu minorities in Sindh province last week.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and his wife also held a Diwali function at the Governor House in Lahore where Hindus were invited from across the province.
As the Senate session was underway, the government paid heed to the Pakistan Hindu Council's request not to hold session on Diwali day.
The Pakistani media also gave special coverage to Diwali events organised in different parts of the country.
A main ceremony for the occasion was held at Krishna temple here which was well attended by the senators and Evacuee Trust Property Board's (ETPB) senior officials under tight security around the temple.
ETPB is a body that looks after the holy places of minorities in the country.
The participants sang Diwali songs, danced, hugged each other and arranged earthen lamps and candle-light vigil besides performing rituals. Sweets were also distributed.
Although some Hindus celebrated privately in the smaller Valmiki Mandir near Neela Gumbad, Anarkali, most converged at the Krishna Mandir.
They also prayed for the country's prosperity and unity.
"This time the government fully patronised the Diwali event and we celebrated it along with the government officials and senators.
"We are thankful to the government for organising this pooja for us and to provide us with proper security here as well," says Pushpa, a worshipper.
"The event highlights the conquest of light over dark, good over wickedness and regeneration of existence.
"Hindu community in the country "equally loves Pakistan" like other living here and always prayed for peace and prosperity of the state," Manohar Chand, chief of Hindu Welfare Council, said.
"Diwali symbolises the victory of the right over the wrong," New ETPB Chairman Siddiqul Farooq said.
"The PML-N government will ensure protection and rights of all minorities as envisioned by the founder, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
"ETPB has launched a project to renovate the entire Hindus' worship places in the country. At present, the work on a temple is underway and will be completed soon," Farooq said.
"Many Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities are holding important slots in the PML-N government.
"We will continue facilitating the minorities events and will remove a feeling of deprivation among them," Senator Kamran Micheal said.
Opposition party, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari celebrated Diwali with the members of Hindu community at Naudero (Sindh province) and vowed to protect the rights of minorities.
On his direction, the PPP leaders including district presidents celebrated Diwali in their respective areas with the Hindu community.
PPP is in power in Sindh and organised Neudaro Diwali function which was attended by Bilawal.
Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf chairman and cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan also sent his party vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Umerkot, Sindh, to hold a function there for Hindu community in connection with Diwali.
"It was a huge gathering of Hindus and Muslims at the Marvi ground on Oct 24," Qureshi said.
A large number of Hindus live in Sindh province's Umerkot.
Qureshi said the party would ensure the protection of the rights of the minorities in Pakistan.
"We are building a new Pakistan where minorities have equal rights," he said.