GUWAHATI: Assam has always set examples of communal harmony since the ages. Even today it seeks to set a note different from the hate and divisiveness in other parts of India.

And to strengthen the legacy, one group of villagers – both Hindus and Muslims -- in Nalbari district decided to jointly organise Kali puja on October 19 and 20.

Interestingly, the president of the puja committee is Ibrahim Ali who is a Muslim.

Kulen Sarma, secretary of the Milan Chowk puja, laughed when The Citizen asked him how a Muslim man became the puja president.

“This is not unusual for us here. We have been living here together with love and brotherhood. We do not look at each other according to religion. We rather see Ali just another member of our greater society. This has been the way of life for us,” 35-year old Sarma who deals in stationary items told The Citizen.

This Puja is in its third year. “We have around 5000 people in the three adjutant villages. And Milan Chowk is something like a centre point. The name Milan itself indicates a meeting point in our language. We will have more events like puppetry show and other traditions song and dance besides drawing competitions among the school kids,” Sarma said.

The villagers too equally contribute to such events irrespective of their religion, cast and creed. “Even in festivals like Eid, we celebrate equally. Everybody treats it as their own and we work together,” Sarma added.

There are two Muslim representatives in the 9 member puja committee.

50 year old Ali, is an employee of India Post and takes pride in the responsibility he has been given. “It’s a great thing for me that the people here think I am good for the job. I must live up to their expectations,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate what’s happening in the country these days. As modern age citizens we must learn to live as human beings rather than as a Hindu or a Muslim. When the world is moving far ahead we people are fighting for religion. This is unfortunate,” Ali added.

In Assam there are several such instances where the communities participate in each others festivals. Popular craftsman Nuruddin Ahmed, for instance, has been designing Durga Puja pandals for last several years. Haji Matibar Rahman who has been taking care of a Shiva temple at his residence premises since the 1970s.

(Representative image)