Hindu 'kanyadaan' of Muslim girls on Godhra anniversary

By Sanchit on Sunday, March 06, 2011

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Hindu Muslim unityVADODARA: Jayesh Dalwadi is not related to Shehnaz Sheikh, Rahima Kadiya and Shehbani Sheikh. But on Sunday, he performed 'kanyadaan' for three Muslim girls, a ritual usually performed by the father in Hindu weddings.

The occasion was a mass 'nikaah' of 25 Muslim couples organized by the Godhra Samagra Muslim Samaj, which brought the two communities on a single platform and had Hindus perform a ritual akin to 'kanyadaan'. It also, to some extent, lifted the mood in Godhra on the ninth anniversary of the train carnage in which 59 persons were burnt to death in the Sabarmati Express, sparking riots that left over 2,000 people killed.

"Scores of Hindus, including a Jain trader, a Dalit government clerk, a jeweller from the Soni Samaj and a Patel running a farm equipment business in our town, have wholeheartedly donated for the future of these young couples. The likes of Dalwadi even paid Rs 3,000 as registration fee for the brides," said Rafik Tijoriwala, one of the committee members of the samaj.

"We are tired of the taint Godhra has lived with since 2002. It is time to move forward for the well-being of all."

Mohammed Hussain Kalota, former Godhra municipality president, expressed similar sentiments. "It is a sign that Godhra is moving towards development and this will help bridge the gap between the two communities," says Kalota, who has been acquitted in the carnage case and was present at the event.

"Most of them (Muslims) are my friends. This event gave me a good opportunity to help them financially," says Rajesh Parikh, who supplies stationery to schools, adding, "In the past I have individually helped Muslim girls by providing them free stationery for their education. But I donated for the mass marriage to send across a stronger message of bonding."

The 'nikaah' where young brides and bridegroom from Panchmahal district tied knots witnessed a gathering of 8,000 guests at the Masjid-e-Kuba near Chandni chowk area. The menu had only vegetarian items as organizers wanted to respect the religious sentiments of the non-Muslims.

Via Times of India