The Shri Sarbojanin Durga Puja Samiti pandal in Jugsalai on Thursday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Action, not tall talk, defines the spirit of secularism at the celebrations of Shri Sarbajanin Durga Puja Samiti in Jugsalai, Jamshedpur.
Cutting across communities, residents of Gauri Shanker Road in Jugsalai celebrate Durga Puja.
Youths of the minority community enthusiastically take part in each and every aspect of the Puja, from collecting chanda, bringing idols, organising rituals and immersion procession on Dashami.
“It wouldn’t have been possible to organise the Puja without the support of our Muslim bhais. There are only 22 Hindu families here. Just a month before Puja, Muslim youths asked us about our plans and other arrangements. They voluntarily chipped in to collect subscriptions. They negotiating with tent decorators and purchased items for bhog preparation,” said Suresh Kumar Agarwal, the treasurer of the Puja committee.
The Puja pandal has been erected on the narrow road, blocking vehicle movement for more than a week.
But, no resident — irrespective of community — has raised any objection.
“Kyun object karenge bhai. Parab hai thoda bardasth kar lete hain. Dusre gali se chale jaten hain. Akhir hume bhi Puja main maza aatan hai aur hum iska intezar karte hain (Why should we object? It is a festival, so we have to make allowances. People use other lanes during Puja. After all, we also enjoy the festivities and wait for them eagerly),” said Nasim Khan (68), who has been an executive committee member of the Puja samiti since its inception in 1970.
Khan, who owns a garments shop on Gauri Shanker Road, feels proud to be associated with celebrations.
“I compensate for any loss incurred by the Puja committee. This year, committee members were a bit apprehensive about chanda due to inflation. We assured them to go ahead and organise the Puja like previous years. There shouldn’t be any reduction in budget,” said Khan.
If some Muslim youths help organise the Puja, others maintain vigil near the pandal at nights to prevent untoward incidents.
“We are on our guard against trouble-makers and we put our youths on guard, especially at night. This year is double joy as we have Bakri-Id falling on October 15. Our Hindu bhais will join in our celebrations,” added Khan.
Sudama Singh, the president of the samiti, agreed that this year’s celebrations were unique as preparations for Puja and Bakri-Id were going on simultaneously.
East Singhbhum district administration puts the trading hub of Jugsalai in the “communally sensitive category” after violence in 1979 and 2005.
But residents like Khan and Singh are guiding beacons for youngsters to learn how to celebrate diverse cultures.