Religious tolerance still exists in India, even thought it may not appear to at times. Small acts of kindness and harmony take place everyday, everywhere, even in areas that are notorious for intolerance. Take Gaya, for instance, the centre of ancient heritage of India, about 100 kilometres from Patna in Bihar. On Thursday, April 14, the imams of the mosques in the city declared they would provide water to the devotees of the Ram Navami processions.
With the temperature in Gaya touching 40 degree Celsius, devotees of Ram Navami have to brave the heat while also taking part in the processions and other activities of the day. The imams had reportedly told the Gaya Superintendent of Police (SSP), Garima Mallik, that they would be happy to support them.
According to Hindustan Times, they said that they will offer khidmat or service to the devotees.
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Nauagarhi Khankah imam Ahamad Sujail said, “When Muslims prepare Ram Navami flags and incense sticks for the festival, why should they shy away from extending cooperation to the procession.”
The city, which is an important cultural and religious centre for Jains, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, is a true example of not just tolerance, but communal harmony. Except for a few small religious clashes, the city’s record for communal harmony is clean. Two years ago, the Mahanth of Vaishnavite Ramanujacharya Math had ensured that Haj pilgrims had plenty of rest before they boarded a flight to Jeddah. Jagadguru Swami Raghwacharya arranged for the accommodation and food for the pilgrims, while they awaited their flight. Similarly, the imams had arranged the same for Hindu pilgrims who had arrived in the city for the Pitrapaksh Mela.
Ram Navami is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Ram across India. It is especially celebrated in Ayodhya, Gaya and several South Indian cities.