Gani Ansari (in yellow) with best friend and groom Ram Narayan
NEPAL: I am Muslim and a journalist. But my Nepalese “blood brother”, or “mit” as it is known in our language, is a Hindu. Our friendship is known as a Miteri friendship – a special friendship decided by our grandmothers over 24 years ago as part of a unique Nepali tradition. These friendships were arranged as a way of transcending regional, religious or social differences.
My mit, Ram Narayan, and I were both five years old when our Miteri relationship was solemnised. Our grandmothers thought we looked alike and had agreed that Miteri relations between us would be a good idea.
We had to sit together and eat the same sweets from the same plate. It is believed that doing so makes the friendship long-lasting.
NEPALGUNJ: In the spirit of “communal harmony” and interreligious dialogue, hundreds of Muslims have joined Hindu believers to celebrate the feast of Dashain. The feast is underway now in Nepal, and is one of the most important observances for local Hindu tradition, connected to the worship of the goddess Durga. In Nepalgunj, a town in the western part of the country, the occasion has special significance thanks to the presence of Muslim leaders and faithful who have exchanged gifts, embraces, and good wishes with the Hindus.
NEPAL: Baluwa tole in Mahadevpatti is a predominantly Muslim community where Hindus comprise just 10 households out of the total of 150. Muslims in the community have now taken initiative to build a temple there and give their Hindu neighbors a place to worship, since the village does not have one. Some Muslim families have contributed as much as Rs. 50,000.
The Muslims are building the temple this time because they want to reciprocate the goodwill shown by local Hindu families during the construction earlier of mosques in the village. The Hindu families had contributed money and labor to construct two mosques. The community also has a long tradition of celebrating each other’s festivals and cultural events. Hindus invite Muslims during Dashain for meals, while Muslims do the same during Eid and on other occasions.
On various dates this month Buddhist sects celebrate the birth of the Nepali prince Siddhartha Guatama who renounced his kingdom and became Buddha, the Enlightened One. While Buddhism is a distinct and separate religion from Hinduism, Buddha is honored amongst some northern Hindu sects as an avatar of Lord Vishnu.
Siddhartha Guatama was born and raised as a Hindu and many of his concepts on the law of karma, samsara (reincarnation), dharma, and compassion for all beings are found in Vedic scriptures. Today in Buddha’s birthplace of Nepal, both Hinduism and Buddhism are not considered separate traditions but fused together in daily spiritual practice.
NEPAL: In the spirit of “communal harmony” and interreligious dialogue, hundreds of Muslims have joined Hindu believers to celebrate the feast of Dashain. In Nepalgunj, a town in the western part of the country, the occasion has special significance thanks to the presence of Muslim leaders and faithful who have exchanged gifts, embraces, and good wishes with the Hindus.
Appreciation for the presence of Muslim faithful has been expressed by Indian leaders, as highlighted by Damodar Gautam, president of the Nepalese section of the World Hindu Federation: “We are never against communal harmony. If celebration of festival together with other religious people prevails in communal harmony, then we are ready to celebrate Isamic or Christian or any other religious festival.”
This sentiment is echoed by the president of the Nepalese Muslim Federation, Nazrul Hasan, who says that he is “happy” at the sharing of the feast, and reveals that he has received “a special blessing from Hindu leaders,” just as he had done previously on the occasion of the celebration of the Eid, the feast that concludes the sacred month of Ramadan.