Where Hindu-Muslim unity still won over communal hatred
Amid communal flare-ups in different parts of the country during the recent Ram Navami celebrations, some instances of religious harmony stand out and beg for attention as a reminder of what this country really stands for: unity in diversity.
Be it Madhulika Rajput, who stood up to an angry mob in Karauli town of Rajasthan or Chennakeshava temple in Belur, Karnataka, which follows the age-old tradition of kicking off the rathotsava (car festival) with the recitation of a passage from the Quran, the secular fabric of India is very much intact despite religious groups with interior motives at work.
Here are some instances of religious unity found in different parts of the country. There is also a heartwarming tale from Kerala which can be read here.
Hindu woman stands up to rampaging mob to protect Muslim shopkeepers
Madhulika Rajput, 48, from Karauli in Rajasthan, shielded some 15 Muslims in her shop on April 2 as an angry mob chanting ‘Jai Sri Ram’ gathered outside the complex to know if she was hiding people inside.
“I told them I would not let anyone inside,” Rajput said, speaking to Scroll. “They asked if anyone was hiding, but I said no one was here. I did not want the riot to spread further. No one can say anything to me here. No one can force me to do anything I do not want.”
The Karauli riots had left 35 people injured in the worst communal violence the town had ever seen. The immediate provocation was a bike rally taken out to celebrate Hindu New Year on April 2. However, Madhulika’s courage and conviction saved 15 lives that day.
Muslims welcome Ram Navami in Jeypore
Jeypore town in Koraput, Odisha, is a perfect example of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood with Muslim brethren making it a point to enthusiastically participate in the Ram Navami procession. The Sunday procession too, was welcomed with full vigour by members of different communities.
When the procession reached Ganga Nagar, Muslims greeted the participants and served them water and soft drinks, reported The New Indian Express.
The members of the two communities hugged each other and photos of their love and affection were widely circulated on social media.
Lala Behera, a resident, said the unity among the two communities reflects the ‘Bhaichara’ (brotherhood) among different communities, who live in absolute peace in Jeypore. Like every year, the Ram Navami procession passed off peacefully in Jeypore, with over 10,000 people participating.
Hindus-Muslims in Bengaluru discuss hijab, rift between communities
The hijab row followed by restrictions on Muslim traders doing business around temples has threatened to create a rift between communities, but a section of religious leaders in Karnataka came together to hold a peace meeting between Hindus and Muslims.
The peace meeting was called under the banner of Bharat Rakshana Vedike to discuss the hijab row, murder of Hindu activists, halal meat and restrictions on Muslim traders.
“If the issues are not addressed, and peace is not found, we do not know where this disharmony will lead the society to,” said one of the organisers. Barkur Sansthan Mutt Seer Santhosh Bharthi Swamiji presided over the programme.
“Hindus and Muslims, both are citizens of this country. Both have to live in peace, otherwise it is detrimental for the country’s future,” said Shetty, the President of Bharat Rakshana Vedike.
Chennakeshava rathotsava starts after reciting the Quran
The external tensions between Hindus and Muslims have had little impact on the Chennakeshava temple rathotsava (car festival) in Belur, Karnataka. Here, as per the age-told tradition, the festival kicks off after reciting passages from the Quran.
Right-wing activists did oppose the tradition, but it has continued unhindered so far. The state’s endowment department too, allowed the temple authorities to go ahead with the practice. The annual celebration started on Wednesday (April 13) under police protection. Devotees with different religious backgrounds thronged the temple to witness the two-day festival.
“For a long time, reading excerpts from the Quran has been the tradition that is followed. However, this year, there was confusion as the temple authorities had initially issued a notice barring Muslim traders from setting up stalls. However, the endowment department took the suggestion from various priests and decided to go ahead with the tradition,” an official said speaking to Indian Express.
As per the tradition, a maulvi reads out excerpts from the Quran to mark the start of the rathotsava at the Chennakeshava temple. Against the backdrop of the recent tensions, right-wing activists asked the district administration and temple to bar Muslim traders from taking part in the festival.
The state endowment department stood its ground and refused to stop any non-Hindu traders and allowed them to set up stalls and participate in the celebrations.