Basirhat (South 24-Parganas): Sheikh Farooq Ahmed is a busy man. He has been looking urgently for someone who can manage the community kitchen on Mahashashthi on Tuesday so that he can concentrate pre-puja arrangements.
“Ma Durga is coming…We left with little time to arrange so many things,” he said, while putting a call on hold on his other cell phone.
“Thank god we got another cook for the community kitchen,” he added.
The scenes of communal harmony at the Bazaar Para Sarbojonin Durga Puja Utsav Committee in Basirhat is striking, in contrast with what happened in the area in the first week of July.
Then, the two different communities were at each other’s throat, in clashes which left three dead and several injured.
It all started after a Class-X student posted an objectionable post on social media on July 3. Though the student was arrested by the police, angry mobs ransacked shops and burnt vehicles. They demanded that the student be handed over to them.
Now, forgetting the past, residents of Basirhat have decided to celebrate Durga Puja together to send out a message of unity to fight against outsiders trying to create a communal discord.
“After months, the situation is under control now. Our Hindu and Muslim brothers are now regretting the clash. They are now busy welcoming Ma Durga to bless us with peace and prosperity,” Ahmed – who is also the secretary of Bazaar Para Sarbojonin Durga Puja Utsav Committee – said.
The President of the Puja Committee, Sheikh Saidullah, personally visited all the houses to invite people to participate in large numbers to make this year Puja a memorable one.
“On Mahaastami, we have special arrangements including Bhog Prasad (kichadi with vegetables) and porridge made of Gobindo Bhog rice and cultural event in the evening. The entire locality is invited and we are really excited to celebrate this year puja with brotherhood. There was some misunderstanding that we all who live in this locality regret now,” Saidullah said.
Vivek Rai, popularly known as Bibhu Da, is busy putting final touches on the Pandal. “We will allow only one puchkawala (Gol Gappay wala) on the right side of the pandal and that too 50m away from the main entrance,” he shouted at the volunteers.
“This year our theme is only peace and nothing else. We all have decided to fight back evil forces so that we live I peace,” Rai told News18.
People from both the communities are also celebrating puja together at Mayerbazar, Masjidpara, Moylakhola and Trimohini crossing. All these places were tense during the communal clashes in July.
One of the members of the Brick Kiln Manufacturers Associations (BKMA), Sudipta said, “On behalf of the association, this year we have decided to celebrate Durga Puja together. In July, whatever happened was unfortunate. We pray from god to keep all conspirators away from our peaceful locality.”
He added, “From Bodhon (ritual) of the deity on Shashthi evening to cultural program - everything we will celebrate together. We want to send a message of peace with this year Durga puja.”