For the last few days there had been a hue and cry in every possible news channel because many Bengali speaking Muslims who were living in Agra where the Taj Mahal Mausoleum is were converted back to Hinduism. The modus of operandi of the re-conversion, as printed in the newspapers, was that they were asked to wash the feet of idols, worshiped by many Hindus and they were told that they have become Hindus again and the only thing that was remaining to be done was to give them brand new Hindu names, which I could imagine would be from “Rahim” to “Ram.”
The day after the re-conversion, Muslim clerics barged into the residences of those re-converted people and warned them the consequences of the sinful act which they had just committed. They were told by the clerics that neither they would get entry into the heaven reserved for Hindus nor would they get entry into the heaven reserved for Muslims therefor they will burn in hell fire forever. These are economically backward people who live in slum areas and work as laborers and for people belonging to such economic group, faith and God is a very serious matter.
Being born in Hindu faith I have no right to think any faith is better than any other faith including atheism. But I would like to share my experience which could be a good example especially during a time when we see the kind of religious madness all around us.
I was living at an apartment in Rolling Hills near Los Angeles. From the balcony of my sixth floor apartment I used to enjoy a spectacular contrasting view. On the right side, overlooking the Torrance Airport, there was the city of Los Angeles which looked amazing at night. On the left hand side was Palos Verdes Hills with its pristine and serene beauty. Driving on Palos Verdes drive had a great attraction; it appeared as if the hill had suddenly fell into the Pacific Ocean, the first thought that came to my mind was who took all the pain to cover the entire hill with so many flower plants, probably there was not even one square foot area where there was no flower.
In the apartment complex where I used to live, the property manager’s name was Linda. Linda was like a coconut, strict from outside and kind and caring from inside. Ruth, the assistant manager, was like a peach fruit kind and caring all the way.
In the same apartment complex, an old Indian couple used to live. The name of the gentleman was Bhasker Williams, a converted Christian from Karnataka, India. Their two sons had settled in Los Angeles; so they preferred to stay close to their children and grandchildren.
It was few days before the Christmas. Linda, the property manager, arranged a Christmas party in the hall which was adjacent to the apartment office. In the evening, after parking my car when I started walking towards the elevator I heard that Ruth, the assistant manager was calling me. She was standing at the door of the apartment office. “I was keeping an eye on the elevator so that I can catch you before you enter into your apartment. Please join us for the party” she told. As soon as I entered into the hall I saw everyone was in the party mood, I was happier to see so many varieties of good food. She had also arranged many events for that evening and people were winning many prizes, mostly chocolates. Everybody was talking to everybody and it was a very pleasant atmosphere. There was one event where everybody was about to start singing Christmas Carol. Linda gave everyone a single page with the song printed on it but she did not give a copy to me, probably thinking that being a non-Christian it might hurt my feeling if I were asked to sing a religious song with the rest, who were all Christians. After the singing got over there were still many more events and again people were winning prizes, chocolates of course. Then we had food. It was a wonderful evening and was also a great learning for me about how to respect everyone’s faith and enjoy life together.
Imagine how I would have felt if I were told “Please sing with us a Christmas Carol” even though I always liked Christmas Carol.
Author: Mintu Ghoshal
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