The Ganga unites Hindus, Muslims

River of harmony
Last Updated 20 April 2012, 18:20 IST

Alarming pollution levels in the Ganga and the ongoing agitation for cleaning up the river may not have elicited much response from the political strata, but it has certainly brought the Hindus and Muslims to one common platform.

The holy river that is the lifeline of millions of people has emerged as an important “unifying factor” between the two communities.

Hindu saints and religious leaders have been agitating on the ghats of the river in Varanasi demanding immediate and concrete steps to save the river. They also have vowed to intensify the stir in the days to come.

The Muslim clergy also feels that it has provided the community with a great opportunity to strengthen its bonds with the Hindus. “The issue of the Ganga is not related to any particular religion. Those who associate the Ganga with a religion are wrong.

It is an opportunity for the Muslims to come forward and take an active part in the ‘Save Ganga campaign’, ” noted shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad said on Friday. “There could not be any better way to demonstrate the Hindu-Muslim unity,” the maulana added.

“If a Hindu takes a dip in the ‘holy Ganga waters’ for salvation, the ordinary Muslims also use the water for Wuzu (the act of performing ablution or washing oneself up before standing in prayer,” says Shahid Saleem, a trader.

  “We love god and we do not want to go in front of someone we love and communicate without being properly cleaned up,” he said. Shahabuddin, manager of a local “madarsa” (Islamic schools), also echoed similar sentiments. “The ‘madarsas’ will play a crucial role in the ‘Clean-Ganga’ campaign’,” he said.

“The Ganga is the symbol of the country. We all must come forward to protect it. It is our national duty,” says Hina, a student at the Lucknow University. Incidently, a large number of Muslim religious leaders and others had taken part in the recent “Ganga Mahakumbh” in Varanasi.

People cutting across political and religious affiliations had taken part in the “Varanasi Bandh” called to press for the demand for making the river pollution free on Tuesday.

Muslims were present in large numbers during the cleaning exercise of the ghats recently.
B D Tripathi, well-known environmentalist and an expert with the National Ganga River Basin Authority, also says that the “Ganga is not a Hindu or a Muslim issue. The river is for all. Without it, the millions who depend on it may not live.”

The agitation for a Clean Ganga is likely to be intensified from Ganga Dussehra (a ten-day long festival during which the river is worshipped and people take a dip in it) next month, the saints said.

Arun Gupta, a prominent Allahabad-based lawyer and who has been involved in fighting for the river in the courts, said 287 million litres of sewage flows into the Ganga in Allahabad,  400 million litres of sewage falls into the river in Kanpur and 300 million litres go into it in Varanasi.”

(Published 20 April 2012, 18:20 IST)

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