In Kolkata, history builds bridges between communities

Whereas historical past has turned out to be a supply of confrontation in some elements of the nation, with the Taj Mahal and the Gyanvapi mosque as soon as once more within the information for the mistaken causes, historical past is constructing bonds between communities in Kolkata.

A social experiment known as ‘Know Your Neighbourhood’ or KYN, which started in 2016, has returned after a pandemic-forced hole of two years, and is as soon as once more utilizing historical past — by means of neighbourhood walks — to dispel apprehensions and promote communal concord in West Bengal.

The following stroll is in June, and the one held most just lately — on April 23, throughout Ramzan — had led to the 1784-built Niyamatullah Ghat Masjid in north Kolkata. The mosque go to was held beneath what KYN organisers name Dosti-ki-Iftar, which has Muslims and non-Muslims breaking bread collectively, and noticed about 150 contributors, a number of of them non-Muslim girls who have been allowed into its premises for the primary time.

“The concept got here to me in 2015, when communal violence was happening in elements of West Bengal — in Barasat, in Naihati. Rumours have been being unfold and there have been instances of lynching. That’s once we realised that there was insufficient info and satisfactory misinformation about Muslims. KYN is an try and bridge the hole between communities utilizing dialogue as a software,” Sabir Ahamed, nationwide analysis coordinator with the Pratichi Belief, and the convenor of KYN, advised The Hindu.

“Neighbourhood walks in an vital software of dialogue as a result of despite the fact that we share the identical geography and reside in the identical metropolis, we don’t go to one another’s neighbourhoods or hassle to seek out out about one another’s customs. Hatred breeds on this environment of ignorance. Immediately, KYN has grow to be a well-liked marketing campaign, aiming to deal with non secular prejudices and dismantle stereotypes,” Mr. Ahamed stated.

The initiative, in response to him, has succeeded in breaking new floor. Throughout one of many walks, non-Muslim girls climbed to the highest of a minaret of the well-known Nakhoda mosque for an imposing view of previous Kolkata. Contributors additionally found that water from the Hooghly river is used for ablutions earlier than the providing of prayers on the mosque.

“Many younger individuals admitted — after our occasions — that they harboured hatred due to misinformation and that that they had modified their minds. A younger girl advised us that she by no means received right into a cab if she discovered the motive force to be a Muslim. Many college students typically refuse subject surveys in Kidderpore (a locality with a big inhabitants of Muslims) as a result of they concern one thing would possibly occur to them, many consider that every one you see in Muslim neighbourhoods is inexperienced flags — we want these concepts to alter,” Mr. Ahamed stated.

“That’s why we want to work with schools and univarsities to deliver a couple of lasting change in the way in which we all know one another. We’re working with Presidency College and different schools,” he stated.

Samata Biswas, who teaches English on the Sanskrit School and College, stated of her expertise at current walks in Kidderpore and in Taltala: “They reminded us of the confluence of faiths, cultures and those who has created fashionable Calcutta. From the Tamil church at Kidderpore to the historic Calcutta Madrassa which is older than each Presidency and my very own establishment — this facet of Bengal’s historical past is usually forgotten, the one which has Anglo-Indians, Jews, Parsis, Muslims, Tamils and Afghans residing and dealing collectively in Calcutta.”

She added: “The journey to Baker Hostel, the place Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a resident, jogged my memory of the shared historical past of the 2 Bengals and Calcutta’s contribution to Bangladesh’s Liberation Struggle. These are tales we seldom hear — tales that remind us that Calcutta will not be merely for and by the Bengali bhadralok (elite), and that it has accommodated a number of cultures, establishments, cuisines and non secular beliefs.”

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