Hindus arranging iftar, Muslims sanitising temples: How love trumped hate during lockdown

For a stranded Hindu in J&K, it was new experience when Navaratri and Ramzan collided

imrana-saifi Imrana Saifi sanitising a temple

On Wednesday, members of the Muslim community from Mumbai helped perform the last rites of their 72-year-old Hindu neighbour in Sewri area after the deceased's relatives could not reach for his funeral due to the lockdown. Pandurang Ubale, who was paralysed since the last few months, died at his residence on Monday. He had been staying in the Muslim-dominated locality along with his wife and son for some decades.

After his death on Monday, his relatives, staying in suburban Mulund, Belapur, in adjoining Navi Mumbai and Alibaug in neighbouring Raigad district, could not come over to his place in the wake of the coronavirus-induced lockdown. As Ubale's wife and son were unable to make all arrangements for the funeral, they informed their neighbours, who came forward to help and even prepared the bier.

A neighbour, Asif Sheikh, who attended the funeral, told PTI, "We have known Ubale uncle for a long time. He always participated in our festivals and we used to be a part of their festivities. We all came forward to bid him a farewell and helped in performing his last rites."

All throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, communal harmony has trumped hate, with heartwarming tales of solidarity reported across the country.

Coronawarrior clad in burqa in Delhi

Burqa-clad Imrana Saifi went viral on social media when images of the 30-year-old sanitising Nav Durga Temple in North Delhi's Nehru Vihar were posted on Twitter. Saifi, throughout the neighbourhood, disinfected temples, mosques and gurudwaras without fail during the Ramzan period. "I want to uphold the secular culture of India. I want to send a message that we are all one and we will stay together," Saifi said, reported NDTV. "We aren't stopped by the temple priest or anyone else and we haven't faced any difficulty as of now," she added. 

Cremation amid chants of 'Ram Naam Satya Hai'

Muslim neighbours carried the bier of 35-year-old Rajendra Bagri, who died of cancer in the locked down Jaipur, amid the chanting of Ram Naam Satya Hai on April 19. Due to the lockdown imposed to check the coronavirus spread, no other relative, except his wife, children and a younger brother, was at home. In this situation, their Muslim neighbours came forward and made arrangements for the cremation. Members of the Muslim community carried the bier on their shoulders from the deceased’s house to some distance, from where the body was taken to the cremation ground in a van.

Two 'Hindu' iftars for stranded Muslims

On April 27, All India Radio (AIR) News tweeted the image of a Muslim man breaking his Ramzan fast with the caption: "A Hindu family arranges Iftar for a Muslim boy stranded in Majuli, Assam, due to lockdown". 

On the same day, Times of India reported that A Hindu family arranged iftar meals for Kashmiri Muslims stuck in West Bengal's Bardhaman owing to the lockdown. The Muslim members were also given space to offer namaz at the Hindu residence.

'Navaratri and Ramzan' collide in Jammu and Kashmir

The Wire reported the story of Mohit Bhan, an activist who found himself stranded in Jammu and Kashmir, who was taken in by a Muslim family. “I have been here for 40 days now. When it was the Navaratri fasting period, the family ensured a proper vegetarian meal was cooked separately for me. And while they’re all fasting during the month of Ramzan, they make sure I don’t skip a meal," said Bhan, according to The Wire. “Getting up for sehri, other spiritual activities, and the preparation for iftaar, are all a new experience for me,” he said, according to the publication.