In India, secularism is inextricably woven into the fabric of daily life, and people practising different faiths have coexisted peacefully for centuries. Sadly, the communal discord evoked by political parties and leaders for their personal gain and interests has been muddling this in recent times.
However, two villages in the Jagraon sub-division of Ludhiana, Punjab are making sure that come what may; nothing will sully the love and respect that the villagers have for each other.
A fantastic example of the true communal harmony which exists in the villages of Galib Ransingh and Nathowal can be observed during the festival of Ramzan, where the Iftar meal for members of the Muslim community, is provided by Sikh and Hindu villagers.
For these villagers, these actions aren’t anything to boast about but simply a way of life which adheres to the ‘Punjabiyat’ spirit.
“Since my childhood, I have seen Sikhs and Hindus in the village getting eatables for their Muslim brothers for Iftar. In fact, many of us have been joining our Muslim brothers for breaking the fast during Ramzan. Our Sikh and Hindu brothers bring fruits like bananas, mangoes, watermelon and pakoras, samosas and sherbet. We feel proud of our values which give equal importance to every human being irrespective of their religion,” said Navjot Singh of Galib Ransingh village to the Times of India.
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And it doesn’t end at Ramzan. Even the Muslim community in the region showcases similar solidarity and warmth when it comes to festivals celebrated by other faiths. This generous display of congeniality and consideration is deeply appreciated by members of all communities.
“I have seen this happening since I was a kid and I feel proud of it. Children from other communities even come to see us during Tarawi (Ramzan prayers) and feel happy and blessed,” said Muhammad Rafi from the same village, which is home to 125 members of both Muslim and Hindu communities and about 1,500 Sikhs.
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About 30 km from Galib Ransingh village is Nathowal, where one can observe the same friendliness amongst its residents. In fact, a mosque in the village was repaired and renovated with the collective effort of people belonging to all three faiths.
“It is in our village culture that we celebrate festivals of various religions together. During Ramzan, villagers irrespective of their religion bring dates, fruits, cooked vegetables, kheer, sherbet, lassi for Muslims and we have those at Iftar. The scene at that time is worth seeing as Sikh and Hindu brothers sit with us and have eatables. We also cook biryani on many days during Ramzan, and our Sikh and Hindu brothers help us cook the same. These gestures ensure that our bond stays stronger,” said Mansa Khan, a native of Nathowal to TOI.
We truly admire the villagers of Galib Ransingh and Nathowal for maintaining the thread of secularism with a commitment and dedication that is yet to be tainted and hope that other regions across the country learn from their touching example.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)