GUWAHATI, Aug 26 � At a stone�s throw away from the river that is considered a grand witness to Assam�s history and culture, two structures stand tall to mark the harmonious coexistence of two faiths. Locals bow their heads to each, and agree that others can learn a few things about tolerance and mutual respect from them.
In the Number Four Colony, close to Pandu port, can be found the temple dedicated to Mahadev next to a mosque where namaz is offered by the faithful. Both the entities trace their roots to 1931, a time when there was no bridge over the Brahmaputra and the area was filled with people working in the steamers and navigation companies.
It was the long felt religious need of these people, mostly from Bihar, that culminated in the construction of a mosque and a temple on the bank of the river. According to some who are acquainted with its history, a Peepal (sacred fig) tree venerated by locals had stood on the site where the temple was subsequently built.
Saheb Mahato, an Assam Police personnel and a local resident, told this reporter, �It was the wish of Hindu and Muslim labourers that they have their places of worship near the Brahmaputra� the temple over the years underwent renovation to emerge in its present form.�
Shivratri, Ram Navami and other festivals are celebrated in the temple premises. Visitors include people who pray at the mosque next-door. �The mosque goers have great regard for the temple,� he added.
The opinion was reinforced by Mohammed Israel at the mosque, who emphasised the understanding that exists between the faithful of two communities. �Both are places of worship and the one above has been kind to all of us� we have lived in peace and this will surely continue,� Israel remarked.
Rubbing shoulders with their Muslim brethren, Hindus visit the mosque premises and participate in festivals such as Eid and Milad. The proximity of the two religious sites has helped foster a true spirit of unity among members of the communities.
He appreciates the thinking of those labourers from Bihar who had decided to build their places of worship close together. �Today, more than ever, it appears as the right decision,� he said.