Everyday Harmony: Muslim employer ensures last rites of Hindu employee

The Patna trader said he acted in keeping with the Ganga-Jamuni culture of northern India

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Muhammad Rizwan Alam, a garment trader from Patna, ensured that his 75-year-old employee received a king’s farewell following his death, reported The Telegraph.

Ram Deo Shah lived in Bihar’s capital city with no family to call his own except the people he worked with. Rizwan, his brother Arman Alam and their friends learnt about Shah’s death around June 1 and headed to his house in Sabzibagh. The small group carried Shah’s arthi and walked along the narrow locality pathways chanting “Ram nam satya hai”. Owing to the close-knit area and the fact that Muslims were carrying out Hindu rituals for an aged neighbour, the procession drew much attention.

The procession went on for 3 km from Sabzibagh to the Gulbi Ghat cremation ground on the Ganga’s banks. Even Shah’s arthi was made by the Muslim group with bamboo poles and help from a Hindu priest. Rizwan and his family engaged priests to ensure that the 13-day shraddh rituals for Shah were observed correctly. They also plan to hold the shraddh bhoj on the twelfth day.

Speaking to the newspaper, Rizwan said he was adhering to the Ganga-Jamuni tradition of India that calls for the peaceful co-existence of Hindus and Muslims. He said that India is an example to the world as one where all religions exist together, happily and peacefully.

“We participate in each other’s important occasions from birth and festivals to death. We have a basic understanding of each other’s rituals,” said Rizwan.

When asked about the communal tensions in the country, he said that the nation comes first and religion comes later. Regarding Shah, he considered “Chacha” a gentleman who was like family to the garment shop folk.

He refused to talk about his family but had put the responsibility of his last rites on his colleagues. During Covid-19, Rizwan arranged for him to take up temporary work at a medical shop closer to his monthly salary.

In recent times, Shah had approached his employer to talk about his kidney infection that required a bathtub, weighing machine, juicer and water heater for naturopathy and ayurvedic treatment. However, he died before all the ordered and purchased items reached him.

Having travelled outside India, Rizwan stressed that non-Indians recognized both Muslim and Hindus as just Indians. He said that the people in his community are not bothered by “some stupid people” trying to create communal divides.

“We delete such people from our phones and minds. Some day they too will realise the importance of being an Indian,” he told The Telegraph.

The people with Rizwan such as business associate Muhammad Irshad echoed this sentiment stating that the people in Patna will not let such communal divides come between them.


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