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Bridging the divide: When Muslims man puja committees

Park, where the pandal stands, is the same place where Eid and Bakr-Eid namaz are held.

Written by Arshad Ali | Kolkata |
Updated: October 20, 2015 12:22:46 am

IN A sharp contrast to the prevailing communal discord across the country, several members of the Muslim community in Kolkata are active participants in the Durga Puja festival.

Besides prominent Muslim leaders like state Fire Minister Javed Ahmed Khan and state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, there are many, especially in the cosmopolitan pockets of Kolkata, who are not famous but have been taking part in puja celebrations for long.

Take the example of Mohammed Nasim, the assistant secretary of Mayurbhunj Durgotsav Samity.


“There is no communal feeling among the people here… We all participate in the festival with a lot of gusto. The pujas are a great example of national integration. We arrange for a feast on Ashtami and Nabami and all of us eat together. This has been the tradition for many years now,” Nasim said.

Similar is the case with Sheik Sirajul Kareem, who used to be the president of the puja organised by Mominpur Sporting Club till last year. He had been at the helm of affairs of this 74-year old puja for the last decade. “I am not the president anymore but my presence is inevitable — right from pandal designing, fixing of the budget, collection of donation and deciding on the guest list. We don’t encourage Muslims to take part in the rituals but participating in the biggest celebration of the state goes a long way to maintain communal harmony,” Kareem said.

At Nawab Ali Park in Ekbalpore, while Durga Puja is being organised in one corner, preparations for Muharrum are in full swing on the other end. “This is how we co-exist here. One of the executive members of our committee is Sheik Shah Jahan. Here, Hindus and Muslims live in complete harmony,” said Suresh Das, treasurer of Ekbalpore Sharbojonin Durgotsab Samity.

Dr M A Kasim Mollah is not only the local MLA but also the president of Mominpur Tarun Sangha Puja.

“This is a cosmopolitan place. Not only Muslims, but Christians and Sikhs too participate in the puja here. One of the attractions is the cultural programme we organise. The Hossain Shah

Park, where the pandal stands, is the same place where Eid and Bakr-Eid namaz are held,” Mollah said.

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