By honouring members of the Muslim community at the annual Panguni Uthiram festival on Wednesday, the Hindus in Gurusamipuram, a small village near Rasipuram, have set a worthy example of communal harmony.
It is a thanksgiving gesture to the Muslims of Rasipuram town, whose forefathers were believed to have cured through prayers many children of the Hindu community of cholera.
This practice has been in vogue for over a century now, the village elders say.
The Panguni Uthiram is a major festival of Arulmigu Sivasubramaniar Temple and is celebrated with usual gaiety every year. It is at the valediction of this festival the Hindus honour the Muslims.
According to K. Thalamuthu, a former school headmaster and president of the Sengunthar Nala Kalvi Arakkattalai, and Devarajan, its treasurer, many children of the weaver community in Gurusamipuram were affected during a cholera outbreak in the village.
On learning about this, the Muslims of Raispuram who used to visit the village for business transactions, offered special prayers by tying a white holy flag to a tree. They smeared sandalwood paste on the doors and walls of each and every house in the village. Following this, all the children were believed to have recovered.
Since then, the residents of the village make it a point to honour the Muslims of Rasipuram at the annual Panguni Uthiram festival.
The organising committee of the festival visited Rasipuram and extended invitation to members of the Muslim community belonging to Achukatti Street Mosque Jamath.
The Jamath members, accepting the invitation, visited the village on Wednesday with fruits and sweets . The Hindus and Muslims holding the holy white flag went through all the streets in the village, when the Muslims smeared sandalwood paste on the doors of all the houses. After tying the flag to the tree, which is popularly known as ‘jhanda’ (flag) tree, they assembled at the Paavadi ground.
The Hindus honoured the visiting Muslims with garlands and vice-versa. Special ‘fathiha’ was recited by the Muslim religious scholar for communal harmony, followed by the distribution of a mixture of jaggery and roasted gram by the visitors.
Later the Muslims took leave.
“This is a worthy gesture practised by our forefathers and we are continuing this tradition in the interest of strengthening the bond between both the communities for decades together,” says Mr. Thalamuthu.