Tripura sets an example of religious and communal harmony in this Diwali festival by organizing puja of Goddess Kali by Muslims in several locations.
Tripura has a tradition of cordial celebration and both Hindu pujas and festivals of Muslims by both the communities.
While a 30-year old auto driver Kashem Mia of Khayerpur in the eastern part of Agartala has organised puja of Goddess Kali in his house, Muslim villagers of Durgapur in bordering town Sonamura of Sepahijala district by organizing community puja with the Hindus.
Abdul Haque, one of the organisers said, Muslims have joined hands with Hindus in organizing Kali Puja during Diwali every year in a temple which was established about 54 years ago in Durgapur village. The village is having a population of about three lakh and Muslims are the majority. The worshipping of Goddess Kali was started in 1964 when the Debendra Chatterjee from the then Pakistan shifted there.
After the death of Chatterjee, the puja was stopped after his death and his son Tapas Chatterjee left the village. Later on, the villagers realized the importance of this temple, as it spreads the message of communal harmony and integrity among the mass and re-started organizing the puja, Haque said.
Last year when a massive storm hit the state, the shed of the temple was destroyed and soon after a few days I took the initiative to re-install the temple and but worshipping of Goddesses Kali has been continued, he stated adding that both Muslims and Hindus have jointly been collecting funds besides, self contribution for organizing puja here for the last 55 years.
Starting from cleaning to arranging the idol for puja everything is done by the villagers without any religious bias. The rituals of Kali puja are equally known to the Muslim women of Durgapur now. Had the Muslim brothers have not joined hands with, it would have been difficult for the Hindu families living in the area to organise Kali puja here, said Rajib Paul, another member of the puja committee.
Shanara Begum of Durgapur village said that a group of them joined in the rituals while another group prepares Khichudi for the devotees and mentioned, “We don’t allow any miscreant in the premises of the temple since we never discriminate between Mandir and Masjid here in this village.
In yet another Shastri Club at Sonamura organised Kali puja like previous years last night by its 36 active members including 22 Muslims. The club secretary and former minister of Congress-TUJS government Billa Miah said the puja has been going on since 1963 and stated, “We have set specific criteria for the membership in the club, one needs to have at least matriculation pass or have appeared in the board exams to get enrolled here but no consideration of Hindu and Muslim.”
On the other, speaking to media Kashem Mia of Khayerpur who organised Kali puja at his house claimed the puja was in 4th year. Explaining the beginning of Kali puja Kashem said he was instructed in a dream by Devi Kali a few years ago to establish temple and offer puja. And since then it became a practice in his house and the family is very happy.
“We are not considering this particular puja as the privilege of only Hindus. The Kali – the Goddess of power has been for every community and religion. We are offering puja doesn’t mean we have converted into Hindu or deserted Islam. All rituals and festivals of Islam are being practised in our family and we do Kali puja too,” said one of the family members of Kashem.
The priest of Kashem who hails from Khowai district stated that God and Goddess are not belonging to any exclusive community or religious group. The society developed the concept that worship of idol belongs to Hindu but there is no such empirical evidence of the claim.
“I have been doing the puja of Kashem house for the last three years and of course it was not so big or public like this time. All rituals of puja have been followed by the family members and his cross-religious neighbours. This I consider as the biggest example of religious harmony enshrined in the Indian constitution,” the priest added.