Hindu Muslim Unity: Festivals that unite

India is a land of festivals, where often people from different communities and religions come together to celebrate festivities irrespective of their faith or community. Spreading love, compassion and harmony — the festive season can often be the force that brings people closer beyond faith, and this year – like many others – we have witnessed some beautiful examples.

Muslims around the world and in India celebrated the important Eid al-Adha on Saturday. But when heavy rainfall stalled Eid celebrations in Uttarakhand, people from the Sikh community came forward. The Muslims in Joshimath were unable to offer namaz on the holy day at Gandhi Maidan in town, instead, so they prayed inside a gurudwara instead.

Mumbai Police too shared another heartwarming image of Hindu-Muslim communities celebrating two festivals – Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi – together in the city. Tweeting out a photo of Muslim devotees offering namaz in a Ganpati mandap, they highlighted “the essence of Mumbai” at Ganesh Murti Nagar, Cuffe Parade.

A similar scene was noticed in Gujarat. To spread the message of communal harmony, for the first time a Ganpati pandal was erected next to Bala Pir Shrine near Udhna Darwaja at Navsari Bazar in Surat. Members of the Hindu community celebrating the Ganesh Chaturthi were seen wishing Eid Mubarak to their Muslim brethren on Bakrid.

On the holy occasion of Bakrid, a few Muslim women were seen performing aarti at a Ganpati mandap in Mumbai. To celebrate the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on Triple Talaq, the women from Sion Koliwada offered obeisance to Lord Ganesha.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Interfaith Spouses Celebrate Ismaili Imamat Day

Children of interfaith Ismailis
Children of interfaith Ismailis

DALLAS: Urvi Dalal, who is Hindu, and her husband Nadeem Walji, who is Ismaili, were visiting from Manhattan, New York. Urvi and Nadeem said they decided to spend their Imamat Day in Dallas to celebrate with family and friends. One of their friends, Kamini Mamdani is also Hindu and married to an Ismaili, Malik.

Urvi shared, “It’s so nice to celebrate as a family and for the kids to be with their grandparents.  Their grandparents remember when he (Mawlana Hazar Imam) became Imam and now when they look back at today they’ll remember sharing the day with their grandchildren.”

I felt a sense of camaraderie as I connected with interfaith families that day. Many were excited to be celebrating with family and friends. It was evident that the common thread which bonded interfaith families was their love for family and humanity.

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Muslims help rebuild Hindu temple, temple hold iftar for Ramadan

Iftar held in Hindu temple
Iftar held in Hindu temple

KERALA: The Lakshmi Narasimhamurthy Vishnu Temple, in Punnathala, invited Muslims for a vegetarian iftar party. Some 500 Muslims, including men women and children from the area, attended the iftar. As unusual as it sounds, the temple authorities held the iftar as a token of appreciation to the members of the Muslim community, who had contributed to the restoration of the century-old temple. The Iftar was a part of the week-long Punaprathishta (restoration) of the idol and Naveekarana Kalasham (renovation) at the temple. The restoration ceremony which began on Monday will conclude on Sunday.

Cherusseri Unnikrishnan, the temple committee president said that the people of the village live like a family and religion has never come between as a dividing factor.He also recalled that not just financial contribution, youths from Muslim community had joined hands with the Hindus during the restoration works.

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Hindu and Muslim conduct experiment and become roomates

Kush & Faizal, roomates of different faiths
Kush & Faizal, roomates of different faiths

DELHI: Kush Kumar Singh, a doctor by profession, is Faizal’s flatmate. Strangers to each other until a few years ago, the two have been sharing the space for the last three years. In Gaffar Manzil, a predominately Muslim colony, Faizal underlined, “There is only one Kush, one Hindu resident. So most people know about him.”

There is also a larger reality that Faizal pointed out – Hindus and Muslims may form the two largest constituents of the country’s citizenry, but they rarely live as neighbours, let alone sharing a roof. This is particularly true in North India.

“Living in a Muslim colony for the last three years,” he said, “has not made me less of a Hindu but it has certainly made me open up to Muslims. It helped my neighbours to open up too. Just as I have never lived among Muslims, they also have never lived with a Hindu. So there are perceived notions about each other.”

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Muslims organize and pay for Hindu funeral rites while chanting ‘Hari bol’

Muslims organize Hindu funeral procession
Muslims organize Hindu funeral procession

MALDA: A group of Muslim youths took the body of Biswajit Rajak, 35, a Hindu who died on Monday, to the crematorium and even chanted the name of Hari (equivalent of Ram Naam Satya Hai) following the Hindu tradition. They carried his body on their shoulders for a distance of 3 kms to the crematorium, and performed all the traditional Hindu rituals including consigning the ashes to the nearby river and taking a dip in the river after the cremation.

Rajak’s family is are so poor that they could not pay the crematorium and associated charges. When his family could not arrange his cremation on Tuesday, villagers gathered at his house and requested Biswajit’s father Nagen Rajak to allow them to cremate his son. Even the moulavi of the local mosque also went to the crematorium. The Muslim neighbors paid the money necessary for his last rites. The Rajaks are one of the two Hindu families in the village of about 6,000 residents.

“The common people are not really bothered. Helping a family in distress and chanting some Hindu names can’t take away my religion,” said Ayesh Ali, a villager who participated in the last rites. The Muslim neighbours of Rajak also paid for his treatment and arranged to send him to a hospital in Kolkata.

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Jammu & Kashmir Muslims prepare temple for Shivratri celebration

Mandir abhishekam
Mandir abhishekam

JAMMU & KASHMIR: From Muslims cleaning up and organising puja at a temple to 1,000 specially-designed ‘Herath’ greeting cards, this Shivratri Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims bonded and reached out to each other, with social media providing a rare platform to relive past memories.

“We have decided to clean up the premises of the temple for the Pandits. We want them to perform puja with all reverence and without any sense of insecurity,” said Rashid Dar, a local.

“I miss water-soaked walnuts that Pandits would offer to Muslims in neighbourhood. For ‘salam’, I would visit Pandits the next day after herath,” recalled Ashraf Kishoo on Facebook.

“Around 1,000 greeting cards were delivered to Pandit families. The card highlights the poetry of Lal Ded, equally revered by Muslims and Pandits. It carries the picture of a stone temple of Mansbal that was restored with the help of locals. The idea is highlight the rich culture the State has nurtured for centuries,” Works Minister and government spokesman Nayeem Akhtar said.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Muslims rescue injured Hindu pilgrims

Amarnath, a sacred site that draws large numbers of Hindus
Amarnath, a sacred site that draws large numbers of Hindus

 

AMARNATH: Defying curfew restrictions on Wednesday, local Muslims risked their lives to rescue the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims injured in a road accident on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway No.1 A and carried them to hospitals.

The driver of the mini-bus carrying the pilgrims died of injuries after the vehicle met an accident near Bijbehara town in Anantnag district.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Hindu family stays up at night to help fasting Muslims

Gulab Yadav, 45, and his son Abhishek knock at each door and do not leave before the families are awakeAZAMGARH: It is 3 in the morning and everyone in Uttar Pradesh’s Mubarakpur, a village famous for its Banarasi sari weavers, is sleeping.

Gulab Yadav, 45, and his son Abhishek knock at each door and do not leave before the families are awake

One man is awake, though, and so is his 12-year-old son.

These two start their work at 1 am and spend two hours waking all Muslim families in the village for their morning Sehri meal and Azaan before the start of their daylong fast in the month of Ramzan.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Sikh engineer creates Ramadan app

Kuldeep & grandfather
Kuldeep & grandfather

Though Sikhism is a distinct religion separate from Hinduism and Islam, we are sharing this story in the spirit of communal harmony

Kuldeep Singh Saini, a mechatronics engineer developed the app Ramadan 2016 which helps keep a track of the direction of prayer, iftar (meal after sunset), sehri (pre-dawn meal), prayer timings, and has been downloaded more than 500,000 times.

Kuldeep, 27, was always intrigued by how the workers at his father’s garage diligently observed the various religious customs during the Holy Month of Ramadan, and had always wanted to make it easier for them to do the same. Armed with basic coding knowledge and a fair experience in app development, he started working on a Ramadan App in 2015.  He started by researching religious practices by talking to the workers in his father’s garage. It took him two months to finish work on the UI and UX, while the actual coding took him another two months.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Muslim back pandit to have Hindu cremation grounds returned

SRINAGAR:  When Rakesh returned home to his small village in Northern Kashmir, he didn’t expect things to be the same. After 16 years, he was the only Kashmiri Pandit choosing to head back to Arin. But what he found was far worse than what he had imagined. His land, his house, even the village’s cremation ground had been grabbed by the local land mafia.

It was Arin’s Muslim residents who became his support system. “They said I must assert my right. If someone has made fraudulent documents to become the owner of my property, it will not work. The people have supported me in every way, and I am very thankful,” says Rakesh. The land mafia has already built a shop and a house on the cremation ground. The villagers recently got together to stop the construction on a second house here.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Hindus build village mosque for Muslim minority

PURTAGERI:  In Purtageri north Karnataka, Hindus are helping Muslims restore a mosque that was on the brink of collapse.

It’s a century-old mosque that’s been crying for attention since last October. The roof of the mosque started leaking and a portion of it was badly damaged in the heavy rains that lashed many parts of north Karnataka last year.

But with the rains setting in, a rare show of communal harmony was displayed to the entire country. Hindus have taken the lead to pitch in with donations and construction material to re-build the damaged mosque in remote Purtageri, a village near Gadag in north Karnataka, about 400 kms from Bangalore.

There are about 150 households in Purtageri of which only about 10 families are Muslim, who are daily wagers or agricultural labourers. Hence, they couldn’t afford the renovation of their only place of worship. But Hindus from the neighbouring historic town of Gajendraghada donated willingly and work is now on in full swing with donations to the tune of about Rs 1 lakh. Some Hindus who couldn’t donate in cash or kind, have volunteered to help with the masonry and labour.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Hindu pens Muhammad’s biography in Marwari

Often, we read about a religion and get influenced by its ideals. But how often does it happen that in a country like India, where religion plays such an important role in defining your identity and place in society, a Hindu boy not just got inspired by a Muslim leader but also wrote an entire book on Him.

“When I was a kid, our teachers would tell us to read books as part of our course. Since those days I spent a lot of time reading. I read Muhammad’s biography too and I thought that I should write about this amazing personality,” he says.

Highly influenced by the Quran and Muhammad’s ideas, Rajeev Sharma says there is no other book that talks about peace and harmony better than the Quran. In the future, he is planning to translate it in Marwari too.

Having translated other Hindu religious books in Marwari, Sharma’s first experiment with a different religion has already created a stir. “I want to create libraries in all the villages of India. Books are the best thing one can have and children should inculcate the habit of reading,” he says.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Muslim History of Celebrating Hindu Holi

Badshah Bahadur Shah Zafar playing Holi
Badshah Bahadur Shah Zafar playing Holi

Holi has a Muslim history as well. Revered Sufi saints like Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia and Ameer Khusro in their chaste Persian and Hindvi poetry have adored the ‘pink’ festival generously.

Emperor Bahadurshah Zafar, whose Holi phags (songs) are even relished today and who allowed his Hindu ministers to tinge his forehead with gulal on the day of the festival each year, writes: “Kyon mo pe mari rang ki pichkari, Dekho kunwarji doon gi gari…” (Why am I with colour sprinkled – By me now you will be abused).

During the Shahjahani tenure of Delhi, Holi was known as Eid-e-Gulabi (pink Eid) or Aab-e-Pashi (shower of colourful flowers), and truly so owing to its carnival spirit and hysterical rejoicing for both the major Indian communities.

The umaras (nobles), the rajahs and the nawabs all exchanged rose-water bottles and sprinkled scented water on each other along with the frenzied beating of nagaras (big drums).

This enlightened spirit percolated in the Mughals right from the time of Akbar. Even Jahangir is shown holding Holi festivities in his autobiography Tuzk-e-Jahangiri. Many artists especially Govardhan and Rasik have shown Jahangir playing Holi with Noorjahan, his wife. Mohammed Shah Rangila, in a remarkable painting, is shown running around the palace with his wife following him with a pichkari (water spout).

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Mughal India Celebrated Holi Like Eid

Emperor Jahangir celebrating Holi with the women of the zenana
Emperor Jahangir celebrating Holi with the women of the zenana

In Alam Mein Intikhaab Dilli, Maheshwar Dyal writes,

“Holi is an ancient Hindustani festival which is played by every man and woman irrespective of religion and caste. After coming to India, the Muslims also played Holi with gusto, be it the Badshah or the Faqeer.”

Holi would be celebrated on the same scale as Eid in the Red Fort or Qila e Moalla (Exalted Palace). It was called Eid e gulaabi or Aab-e-Pashi (Shower of Colourful Flowers), with everyone joining in.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Hindus & Sikhs repair mosque

NATHOWAL: Sikh and Hindu community members from helping Muslims repair an old mosque and even have a second storey constructed. In fact, the non-Muslims are bearing more than 65% of the expenses.

Nathowal has a population of around 7, 000 of which around 500 are Muslims. Around 50 members are those of Hindus.

Says Mansa Khan, a contractor and president of Jamia Masjid at Nathowal, “All three communities lived in peace here even before Partition. During Partition, 10 to 12 families migrated to Pakistan but 50 families stayed back as our Sikh brothers didn’t allow them to leave. Today, our relations are only stronger.”
“During our festivals we get utensils from mosque. Also, we celebrate festivals of all communities in including Diwali, Dusshera, Rakhi, Eid and Gurupurab,” says Gurpreet Singh, a youngster from the village.
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Hindu Muslim Unity: Muslim youth perform Hindu rites

Khalil Pawne, Fahad Dabir, Nawaz Dabir, Rahil Dabir, Shaban Khan, Maqsood Khan, Farooque Khan, Mohammad Kasam Shaikh in funeral procession
Khalil Pawne, Fahad Dabir, Nawaz Dabir, Rahil Dabir, Shaban Khan, Maqsood Khan, Farooque Khan, Mohammad Kasam Shaikh in funeral procession

THANE: Putting humanity over religion, a group of Muslim youths from Mumbra set an example when they carried out the funeral rites of a 65-year-old neighbour, Waman Kadam, who died on Sunday night in his Almas Colony tenement. Kadam was employed as a building watchman.

When Kadam’s two sons, who are from his first wife, and relatives were reluctant to come over at night to help the ailing widow, Vitava, in her hour of need, she requested the youths to help her cremate him. Khalil Pawne, Fahad Dabir, Nawaz Dabir, Rahil Dabir, Shaban Khan, Maqsood Khan, Farooque Khan, Mohammad Kasam Shaikh promptly set out to look for a pundit to conduct the funeral rituals and even got a death certificate from a doctor.

“My husband would never have thought that his last journey would be with so much honour. There were 40-odd Muslim youths in the funeral procession. We have known them since they were knee high; now, they turned out to be sensitive and responsible adults,” said Vitava.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Kashmiri wedding draws interfaith crowds

Neha Raina. ─ Photo by Vikar SyedThe ongoing uprising in Kashmir has relaxed only minutely, but festivity engulfs Loswani village. At least a thousand people — both Muslims and Sikhs — started arriving at the bride’s house early on the wedding day.

“We did not invite anyone, they came on their own,” says Nisha’s aunt. “They stayed here for the whole day, but didn’t eat anything.”

The bride’s sister Neha has many Muslim friends, both male and female, at her college in Pulwama town. “Each one of them worked very hard for the wedding,” she says. Her female friend smiles and hugs her. “She was wearing a sari, everyone thought she was a Pandit lady,” says Neha.

“But even then, many people came and we had a very good time.” She speaks frankly about the monetary support that people offered for Nisha’s wedding, some as much as Rs200,000: “They said she is our daughter as much as she is yours.”

Young girls do the bride’s make-up, men decorate the house and women — Muslims outnumbering the Pandits — perform wanwun, or traditional folk songs.

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