It is not uncommon to hear of Hindus and Muslims living peacefully. And, more often than not, when there is communal tension between the two communities, hotheads on either side—often, even elected representatives—are found to have incited them. Uttar Pradesh, in particular, has had its fair share of Hindu-Muslim riots; the clashes in Muzzafarnagar in 2013, which required the army to be called in, are evidence trouble can be stoked any time. It is reassuring therefore to hear that one of the oldest Shiva temples in Lucknow has hosted iftar and, as The Times of India reported, once the iftar was over, with prior arrangements, namaaz was also offered at the ghats with Imam of the Teeley-wali Masjid leading the prayers.
Indeed, iftar parties during Ramzan are very common in the capital; politicians of all hues are known to host them, and that these parties are attended by many, irrespective of their religious beliefs, is also not surprising. But that the Shri Mankameshwar Mandir should take such an intiative is wonderful. The chief priest, Mahant Devyagiri, observed that it has been the Indian tradition for centuries that Hindus celebrate Muslim festivals and Muslims celebrate Hindu festivals.
In fact, last year, the famed Pejawar Mutt in Udupi also hosted iftar, with chief of the mutt personally serving the Muslim attendees, and plans to do it this year, too. Hotheads in both communities would do well to take a leaf out of the Mankameshwar priest’s book. Indeed, given that several elected representatives of the ruling party have often made communally surcharged statements, this applies to them as well.