Kolkata: What is common between the Puja pandal of Kolkata’s Benia Para Lane, Park Circus Maidan, and Dilkusha Street, besides being beautiful like thousands of others designed to celebrate Durga Puja?
The three above mentioned pandals have been set up areas adjacent to either mosques or Eidgah!
They have been so closely designed that part of the pandal is hooked on to one of the mosque’s walls at Benia Para Lane, while in Park Circus Maidan, the beautifully designed puja pandal is separated from the masjid present within the maidan by an internal pathway. And as you walk down from Park Circus Maidan to Dilkusha Street, the Puja pandal put up by Friends Club, can be seen adjacent to the Eidgah, a place where Eid prayers take place.
The history of the Park Circus Puja Pandal can be traced back to the 1950s and so is the history of the mosque situated inside the park. But the story of age-old communal harmony among Hindu and Muslim communities co-existing peacefully does not end here.
The Puja at Dilkusha Street is being organized under the presidentship of a Muslim, for years now.
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“This Puja is being organized here for the past 54 years. However, between 2014 and 2015, puja pandals were not set up here. It was primarily because of many people from the organizing committee had shifted to other parts of the city. Take the onus on to ourselves to keep up the tradition, we decided to organize it annually,” said Ishtiaque Ahmed, President of Friends Club Puja Committee to eNewsroom.
Ishtiaque is also secretary of local Masjid committee, local club – Friends Club and famous Football club, Mohammedan Sporting.
“The Puja committee has members from several other different communities. We even Chinese members too in our puja committee,” informed Raja Banerjee, the secretary of the committee.
“This puja is special as all the communities, apart from cast and creed organize and celebrate together. You know India’s diversity and culture and we celebrate it here,” Chandan Dutta, one of the locals present at the Pandal, told eNewsroom.
At a time, when religion is being used to discriminate among people, Bengal’s biggest carnival – Durga Puja, with such Puja Pandals gives out the message of not just peace but also of unity in diversity.