People all over Bangladesh on Wednesday, October 20 observed three festivals of Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims simultaneously amidst all communal tension in the nation reaching an extreme peak after the mob attacks on the Hindu community and the vandalisation of temples and idols during Durga Puja.
On the occasion of Eid-e-Miladunnabi, which coincided with the Buddhists' Probarana Purnima and the Hindu festival of Kojagori Lakshmi Puja, thousands of Muslims at a mammoth rally vowed to uphold interfaith harmony.
"We will not allow religious extremism, militancy and communalism," they said, as reported by The Wire, at the rally organised by Islamic spiritual centre Maizbhandar Darbar. Furthermore, senior ministers, foreign diplomats, politicians, Islamic scholars, and Sufis also participated in this rally.
A Not-So Festive Durga Puja
Since last week, attacks on Hindus and their temples have escalated in Bangladesh after a reported blasphemous social media post during the Durga Puja festivities. On October 17, a mob attacked and damaged nearly 66 houses and set fire to a minimum of 20 homes of Hindus in Bangladesh.
Syed Saifuddin Ahmed, Maizbhandar Darbar chief, stated that the Miladunnabi came as an extra-ordinary occasion this year to uphold interfaith harmony in line with the Holy Prophet's teachings and Quran's directives.
Ahmed also stated that according to the Quran and the Prophet, those who attack temples or any places of worship of other religions are disqualified to be Muslims.
Meanwhile, Liberation War Affairs Minister A K M Mozammel Haque, opposition Kalyan Party President Syed Mohammad Ibrahim and Information Minister Hassan Mahmud were among the political figures to address the above-mentioned rally.
Upholding Interfaith Harmony
While Buddhists across Bangladesh celebrated their annual Probarana Purnima festival, the Hindus commemorated Kojagori Lakshmi Puja, which is celebrated during the next full-moon night after the conclusion of Durga Puja.
"This is a coincidence that the festivals of three religions are being observed on the same day in the same neighbourhoods. I take it as a divine indication to uphold the interfaith harmony as everyone belongs to the same creator," Hindu community leader Kajol Debnath was quoted as saying by The Wire.
"We want to be imbued with the spirit of peaceful coexistence from this coincidence," he added.
Sheikh Hasina Calls For Immediate Action
As per an official account, more than five people were killed in the recent communal clashes in Bangladesh. According to unconfirmed reports, the actual casualty figures may be as high as seven.
Meanwhile, the police has revealed that more than 450 suspected temple attackers were arrested from numerous parts of the nation and that a manhunt was also underway to track down more.
On October 19, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instructed her home minister to immediately take action against those individuals who incited brutality using religion. She further urged everyone not to trust anything without fact-checking on social media.
The Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council stated that a minimum of 70 puja pavilions and temples were attacked. This ignited massive reactions at international levels with both the United Nations (UN) and the United States (US) condemning the violence.