Jaipur: A Pakistani royal wedding in Jaipur, but with a difference. Over a 100 baraatis from Umerkot in Pakistan’s Sindh have travelled across the border for a very special alliance. Karni Singh, the son and heir of the Islamic Republic’s only Hindu jagir married Padmini Kumari, daughter of the former thakur of Kanota on Friday night.
During Partition, the Hindu rulers of Umerkot had chosen to stay back in their ancestral home and had refused to move to India. For 18 years after that, they would often visit their relatives in Barmer and Jaisalmer. But after the 1965 war, the border was fenced and people-to-people contact was cut off. But now, the erstwhile royals are back in India to make a fresh alliance.
“Religion and identity, these things that are more prevalent now,” says Rana Hamir, the father of the groom. “But for us, common culture and heritage is more important. If we had left that, we would have been nothing,” he adds.
The significance of the cross-border alliance is not lost on Karni Singh. He says the Indian government has fully co-operated and issued visas in record time to 100 wedding guests from Pakistan.
“When Indians and Pakistanis meet and embrace at occasions like these their perceptions about each other change,” he said. Karni Singh and his family will stay back in India till Pdmini Kumari gets her visa to Pakistan.
The bride for her part seems to have no nerves about going over the border. “My husband’s mother is from Rajasthan. His sisters are married here. So, even if I have to go and live in Umerkot, culturally, it will be like Rajasthan,” said Padmini Kumari.
Her father, Man Singh, the former thakur of the Kanota family, said he accepted immediately when the proposal came to him. “I did not think about India and Pakistan and the boundaries between the two countries,” he says. “I only thought what a respectable, historical and cultured family we were making an alliance with,” he adds.
Rana Hamir’s family has played a prominent role in Pakistan’s politics. His father, Rana Chandra Singh, was a founding member of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and had been a federal minister in the cabinet of former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The jagir of Umerkot has a considerable Hindu population, and has a significant role in the region’s history, claiming to have never been conquered by invaders. The Mughal ruler Akbar was born at Umerkot Fort, where his father Humayun was under the refuge of Umerkot’s rana.