In this day and age, people get discriminated every day for their choice of religion, values,
morals, culture and ethnicity. This has been eminent in different societies for decades, but with
the role of media in our daily lives, we now get to see it highlighted on a daily basis. In these
difficult times, it always comes as a surprise when we see two different communities living and
practising together peacefully. Such an example is Khadki in Pune, India.
Every year in the Khadki area of Pune in India, Muslims and Hindus have been composedly
organizing Ganesh Utsav and Muharram together, at one place. Ganesha Utsav is a Hindu
festival and Muharram is considered a sacred month only by Muslims. In this holy month, a
marquee is set up by the Ekta Mitra Mandal to honour Ganesh Chaturthi for 11 days.
Meanwhile, the majlis is organized for Muharram prayers by the Hussaini Foundation under the
same roof. Devotees share the mic and loudspeakers and the timings are coordinated by the
official organizers for the respective prayers to be conducted throughout the day.
The Muslim locals have been mounting the Tazia in the same spot for more than 40 years but
since the past eight years, a Ganesh symbol has been routinely introduced alongside the Tazia
for the Ganesh Festival without any dispute. The communities also donate lentils, rice and
other things required for ‘anna dana’ (a Hindu ritual) and individuals come together to prepare
the meals. Muslims have even chosen to only offer vegetarian food items in their Tazia as a
mark of respect for the efforts made by the Hindu community. In fact, they’ve offered desserts
and only vegetarian delicacies during the ritual of Niyaz. Even when some devotees bring
non-vegetarian offerings, the Hindus do not seem to object to it.
Each morning, Ganesha aarti and the Azaan are conducted and Muslims and Hindus gather at
their respective sanctuaries and offer prayers habitually. Nobody deplores about loud noises
despite the sounds of Naats and Bhajans intermixing amongst each other. According to the
locals, certain rulers of this area have deliberately tried to instigate rifts between the two
communities just before the elections in order to gain maximum mandate and benefit off of it
but they’ve miserably failed to do so. The villagers believe that such programs will strengthen
the relationships between the two communities and will send out a positive message of
communal harmony on international platforms. This harmony has been observed and
maintained by both the communities for the past eight years.
This practice again proves that we are all humans at the end of the day and our love for
fraternity and affection for each other goes beyond the barriers of religion and creed. In these
troubled times where almost all of the news concerning Muslims in India involves
discrimination, oppression, lynching and tyranny. this oasis of harmony is indeed calming.