ibnlive » India

Sep 29, 2006 at 04:09pm IST

Cuttack symolises communal harmony

Cuttack: The Durga Puja pandals (tents) in Cuttack are some of the mostwell decorated in the country.

The city's zari pandals (intricately decorated tents) are not only remarkable in their beauty but are also a symbol of communal harmony.

Fifty-two-year-old Salim Khan has been working on Zari Pandals for Durga Puja since he was just eight years old.

Salim learnt this art from his father and now his 22-year-old daughter, Resham, is carrying forward the family tradition - a tradition where Muslim artisans make the Hindu festival of Durga Puja complete with their hands.

"All festivals are the same be it Eid or Dussehra. We all must celebrate them," says Salim Khan.

Every Durga Puja, Cuttack city's Banka Bazar sees more than fifty such Muslim families working in full swing to complete the Zari pandals and each pandal takes at least three months time to make.

Incidentally, these Muslim families are also the first ones present at the pandal for the Durga puja ceremony.

Says Salim Khan's daughter, Resham Begum, "We do not differentiate between a Hindu and a Muslim festival. We work hard so that all festivals can be celebrated with equal spirit."

Though a native of Cuttack, now based in Washington, 36 year old IT professional Sikha Sen, has come all the way to India with her two children to show them this one big happy family of Hindus and Muslims - a bond which is rarely seen in this global world.

"These Muslims working so dedicatedly for a Hindu festival really surprises me. It is so nice to see this," says Shikha.

Festivals are not merely time for celebrations. They also give a bigger message of communal harmony, a message which many of us seem to forget.

However, there are people like Salim who remind us of this greater goal.