India’s Islamic, Buddhist heritage on display


New Delhi : Be it Sufi traditions or Bidri art, India’s Islamic heritage was highlighted at the Republic Day parade here Wednesday, an event watched by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation.

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The tableaus from Bihar and Karnataka showcased a Sufi shrine and Bidri craft, a field dominated by Muslim artisans, while Gujarat showcased its little known Buddhist heritage at the parade in the capital.

All three states are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Sufi shrine of Maner in Patna was depicted in the tableau of Bihar, which is better known for its Buddhist pilgrim sites.

As the tune of Amir Khusro’s Sufi verse ‘Chhap tilak sab chhini re’ played in the background, the float showed the shrine of 17th century saint Makhdoom Shah Daulat at Maner.

Karnataka displayed Bidri-ware, a decorative art form which originated in Persia and was brought to India by the followers of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. The items on display were made in the leadership of award-winning artisan Rashid Ahmed Qadri.

Gujarat is not so well known for its Buddhist connection, but that is what the state chose to highlight.

The chants of ‘Buddham sharanam gachhchaami’ filled the air. The tableau was a reproduction of a fourth century Buddha statue found in Dev-Ni-Mori, along with Buddhist ‘mudras’ (symbols) found at Vadnagar and a bust of Buddha in meditation.

Delhi portrayed its multi-religious culture. The iconic Bahai temple in the capital was the main motif while the tableau also showed Dusshera celebrations with an effigy of Ravana. The famous ‘Phool Walon Ki Sair’ festival, celebrated by Hindus and Muslims, was also showcased.