Muslims putting on 'Tika'; a sign of religious amity in Nepalgunj

BANKE: Abdul Wahid Mansuri ‘Chunna’ is a Muslim. Although a Muslim, he enjoys every festival celebrated by the Hindus. A native of Nepalgunj, Chunna has been putting on tika for the last 20 years during Dashain and Tihar, the major festivals of the Hindus.

Tika is a mixture of curd, red vermillion powder and rice grains formed into a paste, a blob of which is put on the forehead of junior members of the family by the elders, symbolising blessings, good luck, strength and victory. This ritual of offering and receiving tika takes place during the Dashain festival.

Similarly, women put tika consisting of seven different colours in a vertical line on the forehead of their brothers and vice versa during Bhaitika of Tihar festival. After the tika ritual is carried out, sisters and brothers exchange gifts.

“I am going to miss the tika on the auspicious hour this time because Tihar falls on Friday. I have to go for the 'namaz' prayer. So, I will visit the houses of my Hindu friends to receive tika only in the afternoon after performing the namaz prayers,” he said.

Chunna has been putting tika from the hands of one Poonam Singh, a resident of Dhamboji in Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan City-1, whom he calls his sister, on the occasion of Bhaitika festival. He also enjoys the ‘sel roti’ and ‘phini roti’, special delicacies cooked for the festival and offered by sisters to their brothers on the day.

Chunna remembered how during his school days he used to go to the house of a Hindu Brahmin in his neighbourhood to ask for sel roti and phini roti whenever the family cooked these delicacies.

The Gharbaritol in Nepalgunj is densely settled by people who have migrated from the hills. Chunna grew up in this locality. Regarding his participation in Hindu festivals, he said, “Neighbours are those who come to your help first whenever you are in a problem. The relatives come afterwards. I started participating in the festivals of both communities (Hindus and Muslims) in my neighbourhood with this thinking.”

He also participated along with his friends in the ‘Deusi-Bhailo’ cultural programmes during Tihar. “I also call my Hindu friends to my house and treat them during the Muslim festivals like Eid and Bakra-Eid."

During the Hindu festival of Dashain, Chunna went to his friend Shakto’s house at Rambagh and put on the tika. According to him, his Hindu friends know what types of food items are taboo for him. So they only offer him the food items that he takes. He said not only he, but his family also enjoy the festivals of both Hindus and Muslims.

Like Chunna, there are many Muslims in this town who participate in the Hindu festivals. So, one can find many Muslims putting tika on their foreheads during the Dashain and Bhaitika festivals. Nepalgunj is a city that carries with it the culture of goodwill and civilisation.

Minister for Urban Development Mohammad Ishtiyaq Rai also enjoys Rakshya Bandhan, Dashain and Tihar, the Hindu festivals. He puts on tika from the sisters at the Brahmakumari Divine University.

When Hindu youths were taking the statue of goddess Durga to immerse it in a river after Dashain, the Muslim youths had provided drinking water to the members of the procession accompanying the statue along the way.

Similarly, during Eid festival, Hindu youths distributed drinking water to the fellow Muslims as they exited from a local mosque at local BP Chowk after reading the namaz. This is the unique identity of Nepalgunj.

People following Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity are living together in good faith in Nepalgunj.