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‘Kolkata, Where Muslims & Hindus Celebrate Pujo Together’

People of all faiths celebrate goddess Ma’s homecoming.

Published
My Report
3 min read

Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati

“Utsav is for humans, not for different faiths. So we all must come together to celebrate it.”
Srinjoy Chatterjee, Chetla Agrani Club

With limited access to pandals amid growing coronavirus cases, and a shortage of funds in a pandemic, Durga Puja this year will be a different kind of experience altogether. As Kolkata gears up for an utsav amid the new normal, one of its oldest Muslim-dominated areas, Kidderpore, will celebrate its long standing tradition – religious harmony.

On 20 October, I visited Kidderpore to witness the preparations firsthand. Pandals set up by Chetla Agrani Club, Kidderpore 5 Star Club, and Munshotola Durgotsav Club are in close proximity to a mosque in the area. People of all faiths were engaged in the celebration of goddess Ma’s homecoming.

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The pandals have more Muslim financiers than any, and are being set up since as early as 80 years ago.

Chetla Agrani Club’s pandal.
Chetla Agrani Club’s pandal.
(Photo Courtesy: Malini Chakrabarty)

Sabyasachi Roychowdhury, General Secretary of the Chetla Agrani Club, shares the history of the famed pandal in the city.

“Firaz Hakim, also known as Bobby (TMC leader), was the main reason why we could come so far... Four-five of us started this Pujo. We never had any differences between us. We never cared about who’s Muslim, who’s Hindu. We have been part of their celebrations like they have been a huge part of ours.”
Sabyasachi Roychowdhury

The pujo used to be on a footpath in front of the ground earlier. Those who have lived their entire lives in the area recall how everyone in the community would get together and cook ‘bhog’ after its culmination.

Chetla Agrani Club’s pandal.
Chetla Agrani Club’s pandal.
(Photo Courtesy: Malini Chakrabarty)

President of the Kidderpore 5 Star Club, Md Nazim, whose pandal was yet to be set up, tells me the history of the club is as old as him.

“Since most of the people in this Pujo committee are my Muslim brothers, of course there are a few Hindu brothers as well, we like to get together and celebrate both Eid as well the celebration of Ma’s homecoming.”
Md Nazim

Md Latif, Secratary of the Kidderpore 5 Star Club, highlights the tradition of inclusivity that locals in the area have been able to nurture over the years.

“Once Durga Pujo and Muharram happened together. We cooked the meal of Muharram, ‘khichda’, in front of the Durga Pandal and later distributed it to everyone. For us, we’re all equal. We don’t believe in any differences.”
Md Latif

Himadri Shekhar Daw, Secretary of the Munshotola Durgotsav Club, concurs.

“Our club is mostly financed by Muslim businessmen. We work shoulder to shoulder and eat the Navami Bhog prasad together. Muslims eat, enjoy and dance with us. Durga Pujo is not just for Hindus, it’s a meeting of everyone from different walks of life.”
Himadri Shekhar Daw

For the cultural capital of India, this is but a normal sight. The idea of ‘utsav’ or celebration does not belong to one community alone. Whether it is Durga Puja or Eid, people come together in the spirit of humanity to celebrate 'utsav'. This is symbolic of how important communal harmony is.

Munshotola Durgotsav Club’s pandal.
Munshotola Durgotsav Club’s pandal.
(Photo Courtesy: Malini Chakrabarty)
“What Kolkata is doing is very important in this time and age. I hope other states in India see this and learn from us.”
Sabyasachi Roychowdhury, General Secretary, Chetla Agrani Club 

(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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