One love, one heart… Let’s get together and feel alright – Bob Marley
And One God, too, as a Muslim family in Ahmedabad demonstrated so on Ganesh Chaturthi on Monday. Bapunagar’s Aslam Mansuri brought home the elephant god, much to the admiration of his neighbours. Such communal harmony and reverence for ‘another’ community’s lord is always welcome in these times of strife.
“I believe in Lord Ganesha and Lord Krishna… For me, Allah and Bhagwan are the same,” said Mansuri, a devout Muslim, while installing the idol in his garage – his workplace.
This year, in fact, marks the fifth time that Mansuri has installed a Ganesha in his garage. He tassels the idol on the theme of communal harmony and unity. Explaining how the custom began, Mansuri said he’s been living in a Hindu locality since childhood and his friends from the community used to invite him over for Ganesh Chaturthi.
“I simply thought why not have the lord at our place, who is believed to be the vighnaharta (remover of obstacles),” said Mansuri. He also took little note of problems that Hindus and Muslims have with each other, and claims that he was protected by Hindu families during the 2002 riots.
His garage, at present, resembles a pandal with decorations creating a riot of colours all over.
Mansuri has spent about Rs25,000 of his savings for the ten-day festival where his friends from either community come to the garage and pay their respects to the lord. The idol will be immersed in the Sabarmati after the festivities.
Muslims do not indulge in idol worship but Mansuri has chosen to stick to his belief in Ganesha. This has had much repercussion.
“I receive threat calls from a few Muslims in this locality; some have even met me and advised me not to follow the (Hindu) culture. But I explain them that I’m worshipping (Ganesha) because of my belief. It doesn’t mean I have changed my religion.
I’m a devout follower of Islam,” said Mansuri.