In a heartwarming gesture, a Maulvi (Islamic teacher) of a local mosque in West Bengal’s Birbhum district inaugurated a goddess Kali temple, on the night of Kali Puja.
“I have inaugurated mosques and madrasas. But this is the first time I have inaugurated a Hindu temple. It’s a different feeling altogether,” Nasiruddin Mandal told The Hindustan Times.
Members of the Muslim community in Basapura donated money to rebuild the Kali temple that was demolished two years ago for widening a village road. They also purchased the land for the relocation of the temple. According to the 2011 census, Muslims constitute about 35 per cent of the population of Nanoor block, in Basapara.
“The 30-year-old temple was demolished for widening a road that was an urgent need of the locals,” a resident said.
After the temple was demolished, locals decided to rebuild it at a new location. The Muslim community raised Rs 7 lakh of the total Rs 10 lakh that was spent on rebuilding the temple.
“We discussed the issue of rebuilding the temple with locals, most of whom are from the Muslim community. They collected funds. Of the Rs 10 lakh spent for the temple, Rs 7 lakhs was raised by Muslims,” Sunil Saha, president of the temple’s puja committee, said.
Muslims also helped in organising Durga Puja in 2018 and 2019 and arranged funds and logistic support for the puja in the absence of the temple.
“If local Muslims did not help us, organising the puja and rebuilding the temple would not have been possible. So we invited Nasiruddin Mandal to inaugurate the temple on Sunday evening,” said Saha.
Kerim Khan, the official in charge of road affairs in Birbhum Zilla Parishad, said, “We are not ready to regard it as an issue involving two communities. We all live together peacefully. We stand beside each other, and this is our culture. We have played a small role in the rebuilding of the temple.”
Bhartiya Janata Party vice-president of Birbhum district unit, Dilip Ghosh, praised people from both communities coming together to construct the temple. “We do believe in living together and not to be divided by religion,” Ghosh said.
Over the past few years, there have been multiple incidents of communal harmony where a community has come forward to help the other in West Bengal. In December 2018, Mohammad Faruq, a 58-year-old resident of Dubrajpur area in Birbhum district, donated land for setting up a crematorium for Hindus.
In 2017, a Muharram committee of Kharagpur town in West Midnapore district decided not to organise Tajia and gave the money to a Hindu cancer patient for his treatment. In the same year, dhakis at Durga Puja in Suvur village of Bhatar area of East Burdwan district performed at a Tajia in Muharram. In another similar incident in November 2017, a group of Muslims came forward to fund the wedding of a Hindu woman in Khanpur village of Malda district, when her family could not afford it.