Religious co-existence is a touchy subject around the world. However, the town of Maholi, in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh, has been forging a path of co-existence.
The people of various faiths are not just accepting of each other – they are accommodative. From using loudspeakers judiciously, to helping out with arrangements during festivals, the town had a spirit of getting along in every aspect of life.
One particular situation is the perfect example of this harmony – the River Kathina that flows through their town. Polluted and filthy, Kathina’s deterioration was worrying members of all faiths – all of whom used the water for their rituals and customs.
Kickstarted by an ashram and the temple administration, the drive to clean up the river immediately saw members of the mosque and the gurudwara join in.
This combined effort encouraged more people to participate, speeding up the process.
Picture for representation only. Source: Maxpixel
“Keeping our rivers clean is our duty and we will continue seva whenever required,” Ujagar Singh, a member of the gurudwara community said. To the Sikhs, the cleaning of River Kathina was equivalent to ‘seva’ or serving the community – an essential tenet of Sikhism.
Together they removed truckloads of hyacinth that was obstructing the flow of water and got rid of garbage like plastic, polythene, human waste, animal carcasses, and even boat wrecks.
It took volunteers three days to clear excrement from the banks! Finally, they managed to clear a one-kilometre stretch.
They now plan to have a proper waste managing system for their small town and have decided to muster support from local administration to prevent littering.
“The challenge is to maintain the cleanliness level of the river. We could clean only a small stretch this time, but we will rally again and take the movement to the second phase,” said Abdul Rauf from the mosque committee.
Religious centres – ashrams, temples, mosques, gurudwaras etc., are natural assemblies of people, who can be motivated to do almost anything by their respective leaders and community members. And the actions that led to the cleaning of the Kathina river give ample proof – religion need not come in the way of unity, and the common good.
In our day-to-day lives, we owe it to our fellow human beings and to civilisation in general to judge each person based on how they behave, speak or interact with us rather than their faith.
Let us hate the crime, not the co-religionists.
This story is part of The Stereotypeface Project, an initiative by The Better India that challenges 26 stereotypes, which continue to exist even today. We are showcasing these stereotypes through all the letters of the English language alphabet.
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(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)
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