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This Durga Puja Brings Narratives of Communal Harmony

Durga puja is exemplifying communal harmony at a time when the world grapples with religious animosity and social polarisation

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Durga Puja
Durga Puja in at Bhopal Madhya Pradesh. Wikimedia

Kolkata, Sep 15, 2017: For over 200 years, the Nandi family in West Bengal’s Hooghly has been feeding Muslim fakirs during the Hindu festival of Durga Puja. To the Nandis, this annual ritual has its roots in a family legend that is testimony to the generosity of the local Muslim community.

It is also one of the myriad instances of the festival — the biggest in Bengal — exemplifying communal harmony at a time when the world grapples with religious animosity and social polarisation.

According to 80-year-old Satipati Nandi, the ninth-generation descendant of the family that claims to have been the “largest importer of betel nuts in eastern India once upon a time”, this Hindu-Muslim syncreticism comes naturally.

“It may sound as a big deal today but it all started centuries ago. It is said that two brothers, Kuber Shankar and Kama Shankar, were selling pakodas (fried snacks) in Halishahar in North 24-Parganas when they chanced upon a fakir who gave them a gold mohar (coin) to start an enterprise… revolving around the first thing they spot,” Nandi told IANS.

The rest is history.

The Nandis ventured into the betel nut business and eventually branched out into real estate, acquiring multiple properties across the state, including the present family residence at Pandua in Hooghly as well as land in Garia in south Kolkata.

Also Read: What makes Hindu Festival Durga Puja so popular in India? Know its Meaning and Significance 

“In remembrance of the generous fakir, we feed two fakirs on Navami (the ninth day of the festival). Now we usually do not find fakirs; so we offer khichdi to any two members of the Muslim community,” Nandi explained.

This communal integration has spilled on to the state capital Kolkata as well.

In the heart of Kolkata is Kumartuli — the potters’ enclave — which is in a state of frenzy with Durga Puja that is round the corner. The clay idols of Durga and her pantheon are being daubed in paint and their curves clothed in vibrant saris.

Their bald heads are carefully draped in jute wigs that have been painstakingly fashioned into braids and curly tresses for the Hindu goddess by Muslim craftsmen.

Neither blinding rain nor religion get in the way of business in this buzzing maze-like colony of potters and their assistants, labourers, decorators and tourists with selfie sticks — the point of origin of around 5,000 clay Durga idols each year.

Around 400 “shilpis” (craftsmen) churn out Durga and her children in crammed 6 by 10 foot studios, cloaked in tarpaulin sheets. The final touches, which begin around a fortnight before Mahalaya (September 19), include decking the idols in accessories.

“Draping the hair is an essential part of the process. The jute wigs are fashioned by Muslim families from Parbatipur near Howrah and other areas. A typical ‘sabeki’, or traditional idol, usually dons a curly and wavy wig. Essentially, they are mostly black but we do have variants of the wig in dark brown, rust and beige,” Babu Pal, a spokesperson for the potters, told IANS.

Slightly rough in texture, they are almost indistinguishable from your average wigs. Packed in bundles starting off at Rs 100, these are available as plaits, straight extensions for the sides or as wavy locks.

“Everyone comes to look at the idols. They admire, take pictures and go away. But it’s not just the idols… you have to assemble the goddess piece by piece. Muslim craftsmen usually fashion the dress material and the wigs. You may talk about cow politics and put a religious spin on it, for us it’s the way of life here… no one talks about this (Hindu-Muslim issues)… it’s business,” Pal elaborated.

According to Indologist Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri, Hindu-Muslim integration during the Durga Puja was not uncommon in undivided Bengal.

“It has continued despite geographical barriers because the festival now is a huge industry. It provides employment to people from all communities. It’s only some politicians and communal-minded people who give it a different spin. During immersions too, everyone comes together to bid adieu to the goddess and family. She is looked at as a source of strength and not as a religious symbol,” Bhaduri added.

And you don’t have to look further than Begampur town in Hooghly district to see several Muslim families celebrating Durga Puja as a symbol of the common culture of the festival that unites Hindus with other minorities, at least in Bengal.

(This story is part of a special series that will showcase a diverse, plural and inclusive India and has been made possible by a collaboration between IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation. Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at sahana.g@ians.in)

-IANS

 

Next Story

This Hindu Ideologue Wants India to Divide Bangladesh into Two, Names New Country as ‘BangBhumi’ for Hindus

How can we leave 1.5 crores Bangladeshi 'Hindus' living in such heinous conditions where their chance of survival has almost reduced to null? 

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Bangladesh, country of south-central Asia, located in the delta of the Padma (Ganges [Ganga]) and Jamuna (Brahmaputra) rivers in the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent.
Bangladesh, country of south-central Asia, located in the delta of the Padma (Ganges [Ganga]) and Jamuna (Brahmaputra) rivers in the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent. Pixabay

By Vaishali Aggarwal

We often see people initiating debates on topics promoting political interests, but very few are there who can prove their point in front of the masses. Hindutva Political Analyst, Mr. Jitender Khurana firmly believes in putting forward his views when it comes to people’s safety on the verge of national security. Read on to find out why he feels that the division of Bangladesh is needed at the moment to safeguard 1.5 crores Bangladeshi ‘Hindus’ currently living in the country.

Jitender Khurana who is currently the President at Aryavart Mahasabha expresses his opinions in an interview with NewsGram. According to him, Bangladeshi ‘Pakistanis’ are here with an objective, i.e. to make a complete Ismalic country. The plan was initially made around 3-4 decades ago but it started forming a picture by the year 2000. The plan comprises of forming an independent Islamic country named as ‘Mughalistan’. The picture shown below can help you get a clearer view of the same.

 

This is how the map of 'Mughalistan' looks like.
This is how the map of ‘Mughalistan’ looks like.

More About Mughalistan

This country is primarily referred to as the corridor pathway between Pakistan and Bangladesh, which is a proposed homeland for the Muslim community. This means the agenda is to occupy the major land of India’s current geography and devote it to the minorities of the country. It is directly depicting that it does not want to give any space to the Hindus, who are the original native of the country; says Jitender.

We all are very aware of the fact that Bangladesh is currently suffering too much. In fact, the Hindus out there are forcibly converted into Muslims with each day passing by. Our honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to talk about the division of Kashmir into 4 parts for peaceful living. I would highly appreciate it if they go-ahead for the division of Bangladesh in the first place, Jitender Khurana says.

How can we leave 1.5 crores Bangladeshi ‘Hindus’ living in such heinous conditions where their chance of survival has almost reduced to null?

Hindutva Political Analyst 'Jitender Khurana'. Facebook
Hindutva Political Analyst ‘Jitender Khurana’. Facebook

There have been extreme cases of violence, rape, and killing of innocent people every day. Why is the government not doing anything for those people?

Recently, a 13-YO old Hindu girl was brutally raped by her neighbor and the accused has still not been arrested. The only reason was the involvement of the major persons in this vicious cycle of deception and corruption. According to Jitender, Jihadis have a deceptive nature. They cannot perform tasks without deceiving the other person. They are destructive too as they often believe in violence. As per a report, there is a major number of Bangladeshi ‘Muslims’ who are involved in serious crimes in India as well.

What is the solution to this problem? 

Hindutva Political Analyst, Mr. Jitender Khurana also talks on the permanent solution to this huge problem. He thinks that Bangladesh must be divided into two equal parts for providing people with peaceful living conditions. One part completely devoted to Bangladeshi ‘Hindus’, Parsis and other peaceful minorities; and the other part for the Muslims out there. This solution can help communities live in peaceful environments without compromising their needs and interests.

Mr. Khurana also mentions, “I am ready to provide 1 lakh youth and expect Indian government to give training and weapons to attack bangladesh to divide into 2 parts. So, we are ready to take casualty on us to make my vision a reality”.

‘I feel that this step should be taken at the topmost priority because it is high time to look after our own people living in other neighboring countries, and looking after their welfare and dignity simultaneously’, told Jitender.

2 responses to “This Hindu Ideologue Wants India to Divide Bangladesh into Two, Names New Country as ‘BangBhumi’ for Hindus”

    • This is your Islam! 1.5 crores Bangladeshi ‘Hindus’ living in such heinous conditions where their chance of survival has almost reduced to null. But still Indians do not support this ideology.