Come Friday and thousands of pilgrims crammed in hundreds of cars descend in Furfura, a village in West Bengal’s Hooghly district, some 50 kilometres from Kolkata, to visit the Sufi shrine named Mazaar Sharif, transforming it into a pilgrimage centre brimming with seekers. People turn to Furfura seeking all sorts of things and for many a reason ranging from not having a child, to the child not being in good health. Not having enough money to piling debt. Having no lovers, to spouses locked in extramarital relations. Not passing exams, to not having jobs.
Mamata Banerjee, however, turned to Furfura after her party Trinamool Congress (TMC) suffered a shock defeat in Sagardighi, a Muslim majority constituency, at the hands of Congress’ Bayron Biswas, on March 2. Her eyes, however, were not so much on the mazaar as were effort to reach out to the devotees of the shrine. Even though Banerjee did not visit the shrine or the town, her government scurried to give a development push to Furfura Sharif.
Such is the sway the Muslim pilgrimage centre in Hooghly holds on West Bengal politics.
But from its look, neither the dusty mofussil town of Furfura nor its famous religious centre appear anything extraordinary, belying the political importance of the place. Furfura, in fact, has all the trappings of any other ordinary semi-urban hardscrabble Indian settlement despite the religious pull of the medieval shrine in the region.
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