Banke, Abdul Wahid Mansuri ‘Chunna’ is a Muslim who enjoys every festival celebrated by the Hindus and a native of Nepalgunj, Chunna has been putting on tika during the Dashain and Tihar, the biggest and second biggest festivals respectively of the Hindus, since the last 20 years.
The tika is the mixture of curd, red vermillion powder and rice grains formed into a paste a blob of which is put on the forehead of the junior members of the family by the seniors, symbolizing good luck, victory and power along with blessings. This ritual of giving and receiving tika takes place during the Dashain festival.
Similarly, sisters put tika consisting of seven different colours in a vertical line in the middle of the forehead of their brothers during the Bhai Tika festival. After the tika ritual is done, sisters and brothers exchange gifts and presents.
“I am going to miss the tika on the auspicious hour this time because the Tihar falls on Friday. I have to go for the namaz prayer. So, I will visit the houses of my Hindu friends to receive the tika only in the afternoon after performing the namaz prayers,” he said.
Chunna has been putting on tika from the hands of one Poonam Singh, a resident of Dhamboji, Nepalgunj-1, whom he calls his sister, on the occasion of the Bhaitika festival. He also enjoys the ‘selroti’ and ‘phini roti’, special delicacies cooked for the festival and offered by sisters to their brothers during the Bhaitika.
Chunna remembers how during his school days he used to go to the house of one Hindu Brahmin in his neighbourhood to ask for selroti and phini roti whenever the Brahmin’s family used to cook these delicacies.
The Gharbaritol in Nepalgunj is densely settled by people who have migrated from the hills. Chunna grew up in this locality. Regarding his participating I Hindu festivals, he said, “Neighbours are those who come to your help first whenever you are in a problem. The relatives come afterwards. I started participating in the festivals of both communities (Hindus and Muslims) in my neighbourhood with this thinking.”
He also participated along with his other friends in the ‘deusi-bhailo’ cultural programmes during Tihar. “I also call my Hindu friends to my house and treat them during the Muslim festivals like Eid and Bakar Eid.
During the Hindu festival of Dashain, Chunna went to his frind Shakto’s house at Rambagh and put on the tike.
According to him, his Hindu friends know what types of food items are taboo for him. So they only offer him the food items that he takes. He said not only he, his family also enjoys the festivals of both Hindus and Muslims.
Like Chunna, there are many Muslims in this town who participate in the Hindu festivals. So, one can find many Muslims putting tika on their foreheads during the Dashain and Bhaitika festivals.
Nepalgunj is a city that carries with it a culture goodwill and civilization. Not only Chunna, there are many other Muslims like him who put on tika during Dashain, Tihar and Rakshya Bandhan festivals.
Minister for Urban Development Mohammad Ishtiyaq Rai also enjoys the Rakshya Bandhan, Dashain and Tihar, the Hindu festivals. He puts on tika from the sisters at the Brahmakumari Divine University.
When Hindu youths were taking the statue of goddess Durga to immerse it in river after the Dashain festival, the Muslim youths had provided drinking water to the members of the procession accompanying the goddess Durga statue along the way.
Similarly, during the Eid festival of the Muslims, Hindu youths distributed drinking water to the fellow Muslims as they exited from a local mosque at local BP Chowk after reading the namaz. This is the unique identity of Nepalgunj.
People following Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Shikism and Christianity are living together in good faith in Nepalgunj. The places of worship of each faith are also located nearby each other.
– Kashiram Sharma