At the time when violence in Muzaffarnagar has cast a shadow on communal harmony in the state, a group of Muslim women in Lallapura area of Varanasi is continuing a wonderful tradition founded on the principle of unity in diversity by performing aarti of Lord Ram on Diwali.
The tradition has been continuing for the past seven years. It was after the Sankatmochan temple blast in March 2006 that this group of eight Muslim women started the tradition.
Rajeev Srivastav of the Vishal Bharat Sansthan, a voluntary organisation, took the initiative to come to their aid when this group expressed their desire to worship Lord Ram on Diwali in 2006.
When no one else was willing to help them, Rajeev offered his office space to these women. And the tradition has continued at Vishal Bharat Sansthan since 2006.
Nazneen Ansari and Nazma Parveenlead the group.
The remaining members are Ruksana Ansari, Shams Parveen, Shabaha Parveen, Shadiul Nisa, Parveen Bano and Shahnaz Bano.
Nazeen Ansari also penned an aarti in Urdu last year dedicated to Lord Ram. The couplet starts with ‘Imam –e-Hind hai Sri Ram’.
“Lord Ram belongs to all and not to any particular community. He is imam-e-Hind. What could be more apt for communal harmony than performing aarti of Lord Ram?” says Nazneen Ansari.
Nazneen has also translated Hanuman Chalisa, a poetic creation of legendry poet Tulsidas in praise of Lord Hanuman, into Urdu.
The only graduate in a family of weavers, she has also translated the Durga Chalisa.
“Kashi has always been the epicentre of communal harmony. Even after the Sankatmochan blasts, there was never any acrimony between Hindus and Muslims,” says the woman who was able to complete graduation due to her mother Shahidunnisa’s support.
“People of Kashi are religious but not communal. This tradition will continue here till eternity,” she says on a positive note.
Diwali on Sunday was no exception for these Muslim women. At around 11.30am, this group performed aarti of lord Ram with full rituals.
“These Muslim women performed aarti of Lord Ram like previous years. Nothing could be a more apt example of communal harmony than this,” say Srivastava.
Some others say such a heartwarming act is possible only Kashi despite the fact that the temple town has witnessed bomb blasts.