Bamuha — a village located in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. Home to around 3000 villagers, mostly small farmers and labourers. Except about 300 Muslims, all residents are Hindus.
While coming up with a Durga temple, construction got stalled in 2015 due to exhaustion of collected fund.
But in April 2018, in came Zahirul Islam — a contractor from a nearby town Suti. He was well known for philanthropy and making donations to build mosques. When he was approached by the temple committee, Zahirul personally inspected the venue and promptly donated Rs.11 lakh.
The Durga temple got inaugurated by Zahirul Islam on the auspicious day of Sasthi, the inaugural day of Durga Puja. According to Zahirul “Allah has given me generously. I spend Rs.20-25 lakh a year on social causes. So I decided to help them with Rs.11 lakh”.
This reminds me of another incident in Baharampur several decades ago — the headquarter of Murshidabad disctrict. The students residing in the hostel of Baharampur Girls college used to break their Shivaratri fast only after offering first prasad to the reputed educationist Rezaul Karim.
This is Bengal where the humanitarian secular legacy of Bangaliana continues to prevail since centuries and which has not been allowed to be completely gobbled up by any communal force.
It is hoped that Bengal would succeed in keeping all poisons of communal polarization at bay and remain a role model of secularism by remaining dedicated to the ethos of Rabindranath Tagore Kazi Nazrul Islam Lalan Fakir and these Zahirul Islams whose chests of liberalism are simply immeasurable.
Despite the hullabaloo revolving the festival and its blatant commercialization, the real spirit of Durga Puja, embracing people of all groups, again shine in its full glory thanks to such gesture of humanity and brotherhood as exemplified by the faceless unsung Zahirul Islams