Pushback Against Hate: Iftar in the house of Jesus

The Holy Cross Church in Maharashtra’s Nashik hosted a multi-religious iftar party to give out a strong message of brotherhood and communal harmony

Pushback Against Hate: Iftar in the house of Jesus
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Prashant V. / Nashik

A church in Maharashtra’s Nashik hosted a multi-religious iftar party to give out a strong message of brotherhood and communal harmony. Namaz was offered in the church and its resident priest prayed alongside the Muslims.

At the Holy Cross Church in the heart of the city, heads of various religious institutions had gathered to brainstorm about the interference of political parties in religion and some political parties becoming film promoters -- an obvious reference to BJP men being asked to stick posters of The Kashmir Files on walls and urging people to watch the film.

Said Father Vency D'Mello, “There were priests from all religions gathered at the church, sharing food and thoughts together. So absorbed we became in our discussions on brotherhood and harmony that we simply forgot the passing of time. Soon it was almost dusk and when our Muslim brothers said they needed to leave to offer prayers and break their fast, I simply offered the church for namaz as this is also a place of God and any prayer can be said here. We then all prayed together.”

Islamic scholar Maulana Zahur Ahmad, who was present on the occasion was delighted at the gesture. "We are very humbled. I will carry the message forward but I feel such events should take place frequently and not just during Ramzan to strengthen the bonds we all share as Indians.”

Kiran Mohite of Bharatiya Hitrakshak Sabha and Ajmal Khan of the Aim Charitable Trust, both NGOs with no political affiliations, were the chief movers behind the all-party interaction. Mohite strongly believes in India’s diversity. “We are known as a place where all religions have flourished and people lived together from ages," he says, determined that this unity in diversity will not be destroyed.

On the other hand, Ajmal Khan said proudly, "After this programme I'm sure that, if at any time, I become the target of someone, there will be at least 10 people who stand by me and they will not be just Muslims but people from every belief."

There was one consensus at the meet – TV news channels are amplifying hate and painting an unreal picture of India. “The reality is different from what we see on television. The media is under control of the ruling party which is using 'saam, daam, dand, and bhed' to keep them underfoot. In actuality, the people who believe in the idea of India are still together and share their happy and tough times together,“ was the common perception.

As senior journalist Niranjan Takle said, "Hate has an expiry date, love is timeless. The people shall overcome and triumph.”

When people like Mohite, D’Mello, Khan, Bhante Aryanath (Buddhist), Chetna Chordia (Jain), Shabbir Burhani (Bohra) Sachin Joshi and Swapnil Ghiya (Hindus) and others like them present at the meet say they cherish freedom, equality and brotherhood and will always fight for the Idea of India, "where unity is in diversity and not in uniformity", there is hope for the nation yet.

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