Hindus host iftar for Muslim neighbours in Central Kolkata
A bulk of the guests on Friday came from the neighbouring Zakaria Street and Colootola Street
A group of Kolkatans, mostly Hindus, hosted an iftar for their Muslim neighbours in central Kolkata on Friday.
A makeshift pandal had been set up on a slice of Tarachand Dutta Street, near Nakhoda mosque.
The area falls under Ward 43 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Muslims form a bulk of its population. However, a majority of the residents on Tarachand Dutta Street, dotted with offices of transport agencies, are Hindu businessmen.
A bulk of the guests on Friday came from the neighbouring Zakaria Street and Colootola Street.
The organisers said the union was a message of communal harmony, something that they have always lived with but needed to be highlighted now more than ever.
“The sound of azaan from the badi masjid (Nakhoda) is a part of our lives. We have grown up around Muslims. This is our normal way of life. But the current atmosphere of communal animosity in the country prompted us to highlight this togetherness,” said Varun Chokhani, a medicine wholesaler and one of the organisers of the iftar.
“Around 100 people turned up at the event,” said Chokhani, the president of Tarachand Boys’ Club. The iftar was held under the banner of the club.
True to the spirit of benevolence of Ramazan, many homeless and downtrodden people joined the iftar.
Feroz Khan, a garments trader who lives near Nakhoda mosque, was among the invitees.
“There is a continuous effort of polarisation in the country. In the name of Ram Navami processions, inflammatory slogans are being raised near mosques. The incidents of targeted harassment of Muslims across the country give us a lot of pain. But occasions like these give us hope,” he said.
On Friday, the time of iftar was around 6pm. Guests started arriving from 5.30pm. When the time came, the guests sipped water and juices to break their fast. They ate dates, followed by an elaborate vegetarian menu of bread pakodas, onion kachoris, a variety of fritters and an assortment of sweets and fruits.
Vikrant Singh, a resident, was among the organisers. “We have always lived together. The Durga Puja we organise is incomplete without the participation of our Muslim brothers and sisters,” said Singh, a 45-year-old transporter.
Earlier this month, The Telegraph had reported how non-Muslims from all corners flocked the Ramazan market on Zakaria Street, for food, photography and shopping.
This newspaper had met Ravi Chourasia, a devout Hindu who has grown up with Muslim friends since childhood. A member of the Tarachand Boys’ Club, Chourasia was also among the organisers of the Friday iftar.
Vivek Gupta, the Trinamul MLA of Jorasanko — Ward 43 falls under the same segment — attended the iftar along with the local councillor.
The imam of Nakhoda mosque, Shafique Qasmi, was also present.
“When the country and the world is marred by conflict and division, such symbols of brotherhood are of utmost importance. This is the true spirit of Ramazan,” he said.
This article first appeared in telegraphindia.com