Friday, June 30, 2006

ORISSA RATH YATRA - moslems join in

2. Muslims Join Orissa's Chariot Festival

BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, June 27, 2006: India's syncretic traditions came into play again on Tuesday as hundreds of Muslims in Orissa joined in the nine-day Jagannath chariot festival being celebrated in several villages and towns across the state. While the main rath yatra began at the temple city of Puri, 56 km from here, which houses the 12th century Jagannath temple, the festival is also being celebrated by Jagannath devotees elsewhere. Reports spoke of all 800 Muslims joining the celebrations in the village of Deulasahi in Kendrapada district, for instance, like in previous years. The Muslims of the village, which has a population of 2,500, also contributed funds for the event, said Sameshar Khan, a villager. "The village collectively forms a committee to organise the festival every year and our community are also members," he said. This year, one of the villagers Naeem Ali donated a tree for constructing the chariots.. . Some Muslim carpenters also pitched in in building the chariots. "Hindu residents join us in our Id festivals too," said Sahid Khan, another villager, adding that the communities attended each other's marriages and other cultural ceremonies. So, it was only fitting that all the Muslim residents of Deulasahi on Tuesday gave a helping hand as the chariots rolled out -- on roads that were liberally layered with sand by all the villagers so that the wheels move smoothly despite the rain of the past few days. The story was repeated in other villages like Narayanpur in Subarnapur district where Muslims contributed funds, helped in building and then pulling the chariots, former local body chief Ananda Satapathy said. Similarly, in Motu in Malkangiri district, all 50 Muslim families wear white clothes and help out - just like their compatriots in other parts of the state.



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