DHAKA: She gave Dhaka her name (from Dhakeshwari which means Goddess). And though she has been attacked several times she remains an inspiring example of communal integration in Bangladesh. The best time to witness this is during Durga puja. The 800-year-old Dhakeshwari temple is like no other Hindu temple in the world. It is a must-visit for not only the country’s estimated 14 lakh Hindus, but also for the vast majority of Muslims here.
The long queues waiting to be served the rich bhuna khichuri served on Ashtami include Muslims too. “Durga Puja, for us, is an occasion to do some social service and strengthen bonds between members of other communities,” says Bashudeb Dhar, president of the Mahanagar Sarbojonin Puja Committee. Prominent members of all communities, including Buddhists and Christians, are invited to participate in the festivities. But the committee also reaches out to the general public by offering free meals and organizing community initiatives. “There have been attempts to destroy this secular culture. Our participation in Durgotsav is important to defeat these attempts,” says Mohammad ‘Montu’ Naseem, a prominent businessman. Prominent Muslims serve on the organizing committees of most pujas here. “Pujas are an integral part of our cultural and religious heritage and we must fight all attempts to destroy it,” says Awami League leader Abdul Qadir Nissar.
Read more: Communal Harmony