Mollapara: The people of Mollapara slum of Agartala had set a huge example of unity and brotherhood where Hindus and Muslims come together every year to celebrate Durga Puja.
They have been organising Durga Puja for 19 years. This year too, the two communities had set up the Durga Puja pandal at a nearby playground.
The Durga Puja committee of this area consists of 31 members which have 18 Muslims and 13 Hindus. Though due to coronavirus pandemic this year, the committee took no money from outside their slum, but still managed to raise Rs 55,000 among themselves. Also through donations by some patrons, they managed to raise up to Rs 80,000 which was lower than the previous year’s budget.
The President of Mollapara Durga Puja committee Ruhiz Miah said “We are a mixed habitation of some 200-odd families at Mollapara, including Hindus and Muslims. We started our collaborative Puja in 2002 to enjoy the festivities and avoid any violence and misunderstanding,” was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
The residents of Mollapara mostly work as daily wage workers, rickshaw pullers, vendors etc.
Another President of the slum Rustam Ali said, “We are poor people here; we all need help from each other. So, helping each other before thinking about our religion comes easily to us. Hindus help Muslims in Waz Mahfil, cooperate during Eid and other religious activities, join us in our nikahs (weddings) and janaza (funeral rituals). We join them in Durga Puja and their weddings and cremations.”
This year, keeping the situation of COVID-19 pandemic in mind, they have cancelled all cultural events and organised a food distribution drive in the slum.
Secretary of the Puja Committee Tapan Paul said, “We have allocated 35 per cent of our puja budget for distributing food, citrus fruits and clothes among the poorest in our community. We hope this will help them during the pandemic, when their incomes are badly hit.”
This year, the state has revised the guidelines for Durga Puja twice. It was compulsory to keep pandals open from all sides in case of any emergency exit. The roofs of the pandals have to be properly sealed and the stalls can be set up at a distance from each other.