Amid rising religious intolerance, communal harmony unites Assam

Abdul Gani,

Guwahati : Even as religious intolerance continues to rise in the country, examples of communal harmony drew everybody’s attention in various districts of Assam on Friday.

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A Muslim sculptor completed a wooden Durga statue after working on it for 11 months in Nagaon district.

A group of Muslim men and women gathered together at Pagladia ghat in Nalbari district to distribute sweetened water to quench the thirst of the devotees of Goddess Durga who were taking out the procession for immersion on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami.

“We decided to be a part of the occasion. It feels good to be a part of any kind of such festivity. We thought this is how we can take part on the occasion with our Hindu brothers. If our gesture sends a message across the country about the communal harmony and brotherhood, we are more than happy,” said Badrul Ali, one of the persons who distributed water.

Nuruddin Ahmed design puja (2)

Nuruddin Ahmed with his design of Lord Ganesha and Make in India.

He said that Assam has always been different than the rest of the country. “Our legacy was started by 15th century saint Sankardev and Ajan Fakir. They showed the way of communal harmony and brotherhood. We appeal to all the people of the state to follow their footsteps and make our state unique,” Ali added.

Moni Ahmed, a constable with Assam police at 9th APBn, Barhampur in Nagaon district also displayed an example of harmony. Ahmed worked relentlessly for more than 11 months to finish the 9.5 feet Durga idol made of wood.

“Religion never came to my mind and the people around me as well have never given any kind of such feel. Though I am a Muslim, for me every form of God is sacred and I have deep respect,” Ahmed told as he gave a final touch to the idol at the 9th APBn headquarters.

Once completed, the idol made of wood would be permanently kept at the 9th APBn headquarters. Ahmed also appealed all the people of the state to maintain the peace, harmony and brotherhood once showed by 15th century saints Sankardev and Ajaan Fakir.

“We have a legacy of communal harmony and brotherhood for ages. The recent trend is a bit disturbing that anti-social elements are desperately trying to break this harmony. All of us should live peacefully and observe the festivals together,” Ahmed, who belongs to Bamuni Muslim Gaon from Nagaon district, further added.

This is not the only instance in the state of such activities where Muslims are involved. Abdul Kadir Khondkar is a veteran school teacher of Joibhoom Kamkhya in Chunari area in Goalpara district who along with a bunch of likeminded people have been taking care of a temple of Goddess Kamkhya and have been organising Durga Puja with gaiety and joy.


Muslims in Nalbari distributing water to Devotees during Bijoya Dashami.

Though the area, Jaibhoom Kamakhya, where the age old temple is situated, is dominated by Muslims with more than 99 per cent population, Puja rituals have been performed here since its inception.

Besides, renowned artiste Nuruddin Ahmed has been an integral part of Durga puja celebration in this part of the country. He has been designing idols and puja pandals for more than a decade.

“I’m an artist. For me religion, caste, creed all these do not matter at all. I’m a worshiper of beauty and I’m happy if the people are happy with my creation,” Ahmed said about his design of Bishnupur Puja in Guwahati.

Nuruddin Ahmed had crafted a huge model of Lord Ganesha–74 feet in length and 55 feet in height – as theme of the Puja pandal besides designing the entire Puja in 2013. This year he has designed with the theme ‘Make in India’ lion.

“I think this is the real sense of being an Indian and especially in Assam, Puja is a just a celebration of joy and happiness. We mingle with all and everybody here to make it a memorable one. We all are same and we enjoy every festival. Only a section of people with some other interests or the politicians try to divide is by using some specific terms,” said Ahmed whose elder son Deep Ahmed also assisted him in the project.

On the other hand, the organising committee too has no issues with Ahmed’s religious belief. According to them it’s the art work which is important for their Puja pandal than his personal identity. “He may be a Muslim but we respect him as an artist and we are happy that he has agreed to work with us. We are thankful to Ahmed for making such a wonderful design which has attracted a huge number of visitors to our pandal,” said Sanjay Pal, a member of the committee.