Ismailis lead the march of communities to celebrate 76th Independence Day

Updated on Aug 17, 2022 04:02 PM IST

Drumbeats resonated in their hearts even as their fingers flew on the bagpipes

Scouts from Khoja Ismaili community (HT PHOTO)
Scouts from Khoja Ismaili community (HT PHOTO)
ByLinah Baliga

Drumbeats resonated in their hearts even as their fingers flew on the bagpipes.

These children predominantly belong to the Ismaili (Khoja Muslim) community, registered with the Bharat Scouts and Guides musical band, which had organised a parade with members of diverse communities to commemorate the 75th Independence Day anniversary on Monday.

A lane in Hasnabad came alive as around 150 members from the community marched from Aga Khan 1 Hasan Ali Shah mausoleum at Mazgaon. They offered the first traditional “salami” to the national flag and the Bharat Scouts and Guides flag here.

The fervour on display inspired members of other communities to join in as well, as the scouts marched from Hasnabad to Maharana Chowk junction, where they saluted the statue of Maharana Pratap.

The Ismaili community has had a time-honoured tradition of enrolling kids as scouts and guides, who eventually play in a band. This, observed a member of the community, on condition of annonymity, is in keeping with the community’s spirit of volunteerism. “It teaches them to go beyond themselves and work for others. With their sense of individualism riding high, the scouts and guides put others before themselves, which prepares them to face the world better,” he said. He added that the kids are enrolled at three when they are taught different life skills.

“We instil discipline and confidence through camps, which helps dispel their stage fright. All these skills are a crucial part of the training and indeed become essential life lessons,” he added.

The spirit of togetherness and brotherhood among communities was also on display in a rally organised by Vishwas Utagi and Jamat-e-Islami Hind, where over 1000 residents, predominantly Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Hindus and Christians, joined in a solidarity march in Dadar (West).

Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, parish priest, at St Peter’s church in Bandra who participated in the rally told HT, “We are celebrating 75 years of our independence but our freedom can never be taken for granted. So, it does look like we need to defend the constitution and secular values, and dignity for every Indian citizen.” Fr Mascarenhas expressed concern towards the increasing polarisation of people in the country. “We are people from different religious backgrounds and we stand for the constitution and are ready to defend it,” he added.

Fr Calistus Fernandes, of Our Lady of Salvation, commonly called the Portuguese church in Dadar added, “It isn’t a religious festival. It is our country’s festival today. We are experiencing a decay in the freedom we used to enjoy. We need to strive towards four goals of the UN -- freedom of speech, freedom from division, wants and fear. I would like to remind people through this rally that we need to protect this freedom and remain fearful.”

Bhikshu Vidhaten Mather, president, Bhiku Sangh Mumbai, a Buddhist monk, too joined the rally along with other monks from his tribe to stress on various issues faced by the scheduled castes and tribes. They walked from Veer Kotwal Garden, near Plaza Theatre to Chaitya Bhoomi in Shivaji Park.

Shabbir Bhopalwalla, representative of Dawoodi Bohra community in the central PR department, who represented his community, said, “People from all faiths lived in harmony in the past and will continue to do so. The Bohra community firmly owes its allegiance to the country they live in. We consider it our duty. Bohras in other countries will remain loyal to the country they live in but we as Indians will always be loyal to India.”

Santok Singh Rathore, who represented the Sikh community, expressed, that the objective of this march was to display a spirit of oneness among all religious groups.

“We have gathered here to stress that our Independence has come from various communities’ contribution. There has been equal participation from all,” he said.

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