‘The Hindu Heritage of Pakistan’ is the third in the series of a trilogy of coffee table books published by Constellation Plus, Islamabad, to document the customs, traditions and architecture of the minorities living in Pakistan. The earlier ones have been ‘The Churches of Pakistan’ and ‘The Sikh Heritage of Pakistan’.
The text for this book has been provided by the eminent scholar and educationist Dr Safdar Ali Shah and the credit for the photographs goes to Syed Javaid A Qazi, the winner of the president’s medal for Pride of Performance. The narrative is succinct and perfectly complements the high quality photographs that make the book pleasing to the eye.
For someone not familiar with Hinduism, this book provides a short introduction of its philosophy, religious rites, relics, symbols, architecture, festivals and the way of life of its followers living in Pakistan. It is a valuable addition to the wide body of anthropological accounts of an ancient religion, which predates modern Pakistan and which we sadly tend to overlook in the misplaced bid to forget our pre-Muslim past.
‘The Hindu Heritage of Pakistan’ fully lives up to the classic definition of a coffee table book. It is meant to attract the eye and makes for light reading or browsing as one makes for intelligent small talk around a coffee table or waits in an airport lounge or an office reception.
It has an eye-catching jacket design showing one of the most beautiful of Hindu temples in the Salt Range — the Katas Raj. It is a photo book, which satiates the sensory perceptions of a connoisseur of living art. Pages consist mainly of photographs and illustrations, accompanied by captions and small blocks of text, as opposed to long prose. It is a light read, provides basic information and carefully avoids heavy scholarly jargon.
‘The Hindu Heritage of Pakistan’ has done a great service in depicting Pakistan as a nation of many faiths and creeds and how this forms part of its rich multi-cultural legacy. I thoroughly recommend that this book be circulated widely outside the country and should be placed in all our missions abroad. I would also suggest that it should form essential reading in all schools and colleges. An Urdu translation would help spread the word wider.
The publisher has done full justice to the work and has produce a high quality coffee book.
Book: The Hindu Heritage of Pakistan
Text: Dr Safdar Ali Shah
Photographs: Syed Javaid A. Kazi
Publisher: Mansoor Rashid
Constellation Plus, Islamabad
Price: Rs 2,900
Reviewed by Dr Tughral Yamin, PhD