A four-year-old Muslim girl was on Sunday worshipped as Kumari – a custom of paying obeisance to a pre-puberty girl as Goddess, sending out the message of transcending religious barriers during Durga Puja.
Fatima, daughter of a grocery store owner near Fatehpur Sikri, had come all the way to Kolkata on the invitation of Tamal Dutta, an engineer at Kamarhati municipality who stays at Arjunpur, Baguihati in North East fringes of the city. Fatima’s maternal uncles Md Ahamed and Md Ibrahim and mother Bushra Begum were also present in the Dutta household where the ceremony was performed on Sunday morning.
The tradition of worshipping young, pre-puberty girls during the Durga Puja is over a century old. It is said that Kumari Puja was started by Swami Vivekananda in 1901 at the Belur Math to underline the importance of women.
Tamal Dutta told The Indian Express that he has been celebrating Durga Pujas since 2013. ” We first started with a Brahmin girl. But in subsequent years, we have chosen non-Brahmin girls, including a Dalit, also as Kumari. This time, we thought of worshipping a Muslim girl,”.
“Does she look like Muslim? What is looking like Muslim? I can see the qualities of a Brahmin in a Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist or a Jain”.The Durga puja organiser said in response to the repeated question on why he chose a Muslim girl. Dutta also said that he has not faced any opposition for promoting this interfaith relationship.
Ahamed, on the other hand, said they felt very happy Fatima been chosen as a Kumari.“This country is for all. It is as much of Hindus as it for Muslims. This development will give a message that members of the two communities want to live together in peace, ” he said. Bushra Begum mother of Fatima said, ” I do not believe in Hindu Muslim, it is all about humanity.”
Like always, Durga Puja in Kolkata that displays myriads themes every year has been much more than a religious and a social carnival. Tamal Dutta and Ahmed have sent out a strong message of brotherhood and coexistence through this year festivities.