The month of Muharram is observed with different traditions for Muslims across the world. However, Muharram in India brings together a much wider community; this year it coincided with Durja Puja, a major Hindu festival.
This year, the time of Durja Puja and Muharram has allowed the true community spirit that was once prevalent prior to 1947 to come to life.
Muharram is the first month in the Islamic Calendar and marks the passing and sacrifice of Imam Hussain (as). Like many cities across the world a processions walks through the streets of Kharagpur in West Bengal. This year the Rs. 50,000 needed for the procession, was given to Abur Bhunia, a local phone shop owner diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma needing money for his treatment.
“Muharram processions can be organised every year. But we have to save the life first.”
While, religious tensions have recently spilled over into politics, West Bengal has stayed away from this, with Tushar Chowdhury, a local Councillor, highlighting the interfaith community spirit. He reminded the community that the funds for work on a local temple were raised by Muslims and after prayers food and sweets that are offered to the goddess Sitala, are then distributed to Muslims.
Another village in Bengal, Sunur, had their annual Muharram procession planned, part of this included tazia players who did not turn up. Drummers for the local Durga Puja stepped in and filled this role.
The state of West Bengal should become a blueprint of true community spirit. This year for Durga Puja and Muharram, the police planned out the city to ensure that both religions could observe their respective days.
“We are not interested in petty politics entering religion. We live here unitedly.” – Member of the village Durga Puja Committee.
Hussaini Brahmins are also known to follow certain Muslim traditions. The community has traced their lineage back to the days of Imam Hussain, where their ancestors fought alongside him.
“We believe that both Hindus and Muslims should follow each other’s rituals and traditions. Our community observes Muharram and women keep fasts just as Muslims do.” – Rajinder Kumar, part of the Hussaini Brahmin Community