Muslims celebrate Holi with Hindus in Orissa

March 22nd, 2008 - 3:01 pm ICT by admin  

Bhubaneswar, March 22 (IANS) Setting a fine example of communal harmony, Muslims in an Orissa village celebrated Holi with the same enthusiasm as the Hindus who in turn took their deities to a Muslim `peeth’ and offered a chadar at the shrine. Hundreds of Muslims celebrated the Hindu festivals of Dola Purnima Friday and Holi Saturday. The festival was celebrated by both communities at Fakirtakia village in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur, 110 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, where it is being observed for the past 500 years.

According to legend, in 16th century Budhan Saheb, a Muslim prophet, visited Fakirtakia village and started celebrating Dola at ‘Dargha Budhan Shaib’ locally known as Satyapriya Peeth, a Muslim religious place, located in Birabarpatana village nearby.

After his death, the Muslim families of the village took the responsibility of continuing this celebration.

On the occasion of Dola Purnima, that is celebrated every year on the full-moon day in the month of Falguna in March, people take in a procession the idols of Hindu deities in decorated palanquins known as ‘Veemana’.

The processions led by village drummers and pipers halt in front of each household and the deity is offered ‘bhog’, or ritual offering.

On Friday, at least 30 such processions from five villages - Rambhadeipur, Naranpur, Rohia, Kulomindilo and Gateswar - congregated at the Satyapriya Peeth.

The speciality of the festival is that the Hindu deities are first taken to Satyapriya Peeth before being to taken in a procession to other places, said a resident.

“We love to celebrate this festival together,” Syaed Saukat Alli, head of Satyapriya Peeth told IANS. “We have been celebrating it the same way since the past 500 years,” he added.

“Muslims offer sweets, flowers, incense sticks, coconut, fruits, grams and other things to the deities,” he said. Similarly, Hindus apply ‘abir’ (colour) and greet the Muslims at the peeth, he said.

The Hindus offer a ‘chadar’ (sheet) at the Satyapriya Peeth while Muslims offer dhoti and towel to the Hindu deities. Later, the deities are taken in a procession called ‘bhoagkhia’ that begins after completion of traditional rituals at the Peeth.

Hindu priest S. Rath said: “We have been celebrating the seven-day festival here since long as a mark of respect to the age old custom and tradition of the village.”

“On Saturday, people of both communities move around in groups and smear coloured powder on one another,” he said.

To make the festival more attractive, both Hindus and Muslims organized bhajan and qawwali competitions at the Peeth.

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