A group of Muslim villagers in the Giridih district of Jharkhand set an example of communal harmony in the face of growing intolerance and communal polarisation.
Around 20 villagers residing in a predominantly Muslim village in Kazimagha of Magha Kala panchayat in Jamua block, which is located nearly 30km away from Giridih district headquarters, performed the last rites of a nonagenarian Hindu man named Jago Ravidas, following his religious customs. Not only did they chant “Ram naam satya hai”, but they also conducted the rituals according to his Hindu traditions.
“Jago Ravidas ji was very old and belonged to the only Hindu family in our village. He used to stay with his wife Radhiya Devi, who is nearly 85 years old. We had seen him since childhood and he was close to our parents. They were childless and we used to look after them. When Jago Ravidas ji passed away on Wednesday because of age-related illness, we informed his relatives staying in nearby villages and carried out the last rites according to Hindu customs with their permission. It came naturally to us. We did not think twice about this,” said Mahshar Imam, who runs a poultry unit in the same village and is associated with the Congress party.
Abuzar Nomani said that all the youths came on their own to set up the bamboo biers and follow other customs.
“We even invited a Hindu priest from the nearby village. We had to do it for him as he was among the oldest people in the village and we used to respect him a lot,” said Nomani.
“We collected funds for performing the last rites which cost us nearly Rs 6,000. Everyone contributed voluntarily. The cremation was done at the Jharo rivulet ghat according to Hindu rituals,” said Imam.
He also informed that women of their families were taking care of the deceased’s wife.
“We are looking after the elderly woman and have asked the relatives that the shraddha ceremony would also be held in the village according to the rituals on the specified date in consultation with them. We have already started a collection for it,” said Imam.
Imam mentioned that nearly 30-35 Muslims stayed in the village while Jago Ravidas’s family was the only Hindu family.
“Few Hindu villagers have shifted to the neighbouring villages. But they do come and attend our functions and we too visit their houses during their festivals. There is no communal feeling at least in our panchayat and we hope it remains that way,” said Imam.
He also said that they would ensure that the widow got linked with government benefits such as pension and health facilities.,“We will check if they are getting pension and ration facilities. If not we will get them linked to government welfare schemes, especially health schemes,” said Imam.