Hindu Muslim Unity: Pakistani Muslims protect Hindus celebrating Holi

Muslim children playing Hindu Holi
Muslim children playing Hindu Holi

KARACHI: Pakistani students formed a human shield around the Holi celebrations at the Swami Narayan Temple so that Hindus could celebrate their festival with abandon.

Hindus, who make up almost 2% of Pakistan’s population of around 180 million, are the largest minority in the country. Most of them live in the country’s Sindh and Punjab provinces.

The National Student’s Federation (NSF) carried out this exercise to show their solidarity with Pakistani Hindus, to promote the protection of religious minorities, and advocate interfaith coexistence.

Read more: Communal Harmony

Hindu Muslim Unity: Yearly Ganesh festival held inside mosque

GOTKINDHI: In a classic example of communal harmony, members of the New Ganesh Tarun Mandal in Gotkhindi, a small village in Walwa taluka of Sangli district, have been installing the Ganesh deity inside a mosque in the village for the last 31 years.

The mandal members, both Hindus and Muslims, are also equally proud of the fact that villagers have never objected to the move. In fact, the Muslim villagers offer namaz at the mosque and then follow it up with an aarti for Lord Ganesh. Similarly, Hindus can be seen celebrating Eid with equal zest.

Subhash Thorat, one of the founders of the New Ganesh Tarun Mandal in Gotkhind says, “Our village is small and in 1979, the facilities here were very limited. There was no pandal or tin shed like we see in the Ganesh festivals now. So we installed the idol out in the open. But on one of the festival days, it started raining heavily. We wanted to shift the idol to protect it from the rain. That’s when our Muslim residents came forward and asked us to shift the idol inside the mosque.”

That was 31 years ago and every Ganesh Chaturthi, the idol gets installed in the mosque. “Even after all these years, we don’t set up a separate pandal during the festival. The move has helped strengthen Hindu-Muslim bonds in the village,” says Thorat.

Read more: Communal Harmony

Hindu Muslim Unity: Hindu youth distribute sweets to Muslims on Milad-un-Nabi

MANGALAGURU: A few youngsters belonging to the Hindu community calling themselves ‘Friends of Bakrabail’ distributed sweets to the Muslim brothers on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi a which marks the birth of the Prophet.

The Bakrabail village is situated near to Salethur at the Kerala border in Dakshina Kannada district. Every year during the feast, Muslims from the nearby Madrasas organise a rally, which convenes at Bakrabail junction. This year a group of youth called ‘Friends of Bakrabail’ showed their heartedness by distributing sweets and refreshments to all present at the rally. This act of showing communal harmony and brotherhood among different religion has been appreciated by all.

Read more: Communal Harmony

Hindu Muslim Unity: Australian Hindu fasts for Ramadan

Kartik Mohandas
Kartik Mohandas

BELLA VISTA: When Kartik Mohandas breaks his Ramadan fast he meditates while his Muslim friends recite Islamic prayers. “Fasting exists in most messianic religions. Navratri is a period where Hindus fast for nine days and hold festivities on the 10th day. So fasting is not specific to any culture.”

“I have only one phrase and it comes from a vedic [Sanskrit] text, vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means “the world is my family. Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, they all had their revelations out in the desert after fasting. There’s got to be something to it, some experience that they went through.”

Read more: Communal Harmony
Read more about Fasting in Hinduism and Islam

Hindu Muslim Unity: Temple built next to Mosque by Muslim family flourishes for 200 years

Hindus and Muslims practice their faiths side by side
Hindus and Muslims practice their faiths side by side

Muzzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh has been the house of communal harmony right from its existence. Here everyone believes in the age old ethos which has led to upsurge the traditional root of the country. One such instance is of Shah Alam Zaidi. Muslim by religion, Zaidi and his family donated a land for building a Hindu temple and a mosque adjacent to each other. Zaidi is famous among the people of the region, as he serves to the temple with utmost devotion and faith. During the occasion of Navratari he takes part in all the rituals performed in the temple. Built two hundred years ago this temple and mosque in its side clearly reflects the fact that the culture of communal harmony still prevails in the country.

Read more (video included): Communal Harmony

Hindu Muslim Unity: 12 year old Muslim girl wins Bhagavad Gita competition

12 year old Maryam Siddiqui has won against 4000 competitors to win the Bhagavad Gita Champion League
12 year old Maryam Siddiqui has won against 4000 competitors to win the Bhagavad Gita Champion League

MUMBAI: Maryam Asif Siddiqui might have been a regular 6th Grade student but she’s not. The 12 year old from Cosmopolitan High School, Mira Road, Mumbai, recently won the Gita Champions League hosted by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

When asked what motivated her to participate in the competition she said, “I have always been inquisitive about religions and I often read up on them during my free time. So when my teacher told me about this contest I thought it would be a good chance to understand what the book is about. My parents too supported my idea of participating in the contest” Her curiosity was driven by the fact that she: “tried to understand what the Gita tries to tell us. The more I read about different religions, the more I have realized that humanity is the most important religion that we must follow”.

It’s no wonder that Maryam’s different thinking originates from her family and her father. “Our family believes that one needs to respect and accept all religions. No religion preaches hatred or wrong. However, there are some members who have misguided us. Before these have a bad influence on the children, we need to talk to them and make them understand what is right,” said her father, Asif Siddiqui.

Read more: Communal Harmony

Hindu Muslim Unity: American gurdwara promoted interfaith relations in California

Stockton Gurdwara 1912
Stockton Gurdwara, circa 1912

At the turn of the century, several thousand Indians settled in regions like Northern California. It’s the largely untold story of the migration of Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims from pre-partition India from the late 19th century up until the passage of the Asian Exclusion Act (which was passed to limit Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and Indian migration). At the time, about two-thirds of Indian immigrants in California were Sikh, and as a result, the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society – a gurdwara – opened in Stockton in 1911.

Because Hindus and Muslims in the region were still small in number, and unable to get the approvals to build any sites of worship, the Stockton gurdwara served as a place of worship for all three religions. While Hindu-Sikh co-worship was common in northern India for centuries, a place for all three groups in the United States was created by circumstance and sustained through interfaith bonds.

Over the next three decades, the Khalsa Diwan hosted Hindu leaders and Muslim leaders alike, including the Hindu leader Swami Yogananda, who founded the Self-Realization Fellowship and authored Autobiography of a Yogi. Moreover, it served as a meeting ground for those seeking to build support for the Indian freedom struggle, especially those involved with the Ghadar Party. Despite having different religions, Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus still felt strongly connected to India and identified strongly with Indian nationalism.

Read more: Communal Harmony

Related links:
Sikhism and Religious Unity
Sikhism’s 10th Guru on Unity