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Harmony before Chhath Puja: Muslims wash streets in Bengal for devotees

The streets were dusty and would have created trouble for the devotees some of whom lie prostrate to offer prayers.

kolkata Updated: Oct 26, 2017 17:16 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Chhath Puja,West Bengal,Mamata Banerjee
File picture of a devotee carrying fruits and sweets to perform Chhath puja.(HT Photo)

Muslims in two villages near the industrial town of Asansol in West Burdwan district washed the streets on Thursday to facilitate devotees who would offer prayers on the occasion of Chhath puja on Friday dawn.

The show of communal harmony comes close on the heels of a few instances in the state, where on October 1, Hindu dhakis beat the drums in a Muharram procession, and a Muharram committee cancelled the procession and donated the money for the treatment of cancer of a Hindu youth.

Read: Chhath Puja 2017: Puja timings, history and significance of the Sun festival

"They washed the roads at five different stretches including river banks. The devotees will move through these roads for the puja. These roads are usually dusty and, therefore, the Muslims youths decided to wash them so that some devotees, who lie prostrate offering prayers, do not face any trouble,” local Trinamool Congress legislator (Pandaveswar constituency) and Asansol Municipal Corporation mayor, Jitendra Kumar Tiwari told HT.

Tiwari also said the move was spontaneously undertaken by the locals of the villages Kendra and Donyo, where Muslims comprise more than 90% of the population.

Chhath festival is the worship of sun god in Hindu mythology, Surya and his wife Usha. Though it is celebrated in a major way in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, the festival has become quite an occasion in certain pockets of West Bengal too. This year the Mamata Banerjee government has declared a holiday on Chhath.

Read: Muslims forego Muharram procession to fund cancer treatment of Hindu man in Bengal

Recently, a few incidents in the state attracted attention for gestures of harmony between Hindus and Muslims. On October 1, the day of Muharram, dhakis (drummers) of a local Durga Puja committee in a village in West Midnapore district, beat the drums for a Muharram procession when the drummers hired by the Tazia committee did not turn up.

In another area of Kharagpur town a committee cancelled Muharram procession and diverted the money to fund the treatment of a cancer of a Hindu youth in the locality.

On Thursday evening, addressing a meeting on the occasion of Chhath puja, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that the people of the state upheld the tradition of amity between communities though there were plans to create tension from some quarters.

Incidentally, there were a string of communal clashes in Bengal since October 2016, and the flare ups in Basirhat and Baduria in North 24 Parganas district in July attracted nationwide attention.

First Published: Oct 26, 2017 17:16 IST