The ‘Thread’ of Humane Gesture: How Muslims in My Village Greet Hindus on Diwali


The ‘Thread’ of Humane Gesture: How Muslims in My Village Greet Hindus on Diwali

September 5, 2019

In the above photo taken on Diwali an elderly rangrez Muslim woman is greeting my mother. On the face of this, it looked like normal social courtesy among villagers but the relationship between the two is linked to a thread of gesture way back in 1947 when the country was partitioned and the social harmony among Hindus and Muslims in India had taken very ugly turn.

It was August 1947 around the time of partition when there was fierce rage between the two communities. The vengeance seeking groups were prowling around when some Muslim families turned to our village Siwas in Pali district of Rajasthan in north-west India hoping for a safe shelter. They were hounded by fanatic groups but were not in favour of fleeing to Pakistan.

My great grand-father was an influential person in our village at that time, not due to any title or role but people generally took him to be their leader. He not only provided a safe shelter to these Muslim families but also gave them land to grow crops and financial support to meet their day to day financial needs. In the communally charged environment of that time, this did not go down well among the villagers who gathered around him to complain. He had made a decision contrary to his supporters. They asked him why he had done so and he replied, ‘‘It was not his but god’s the decision that they are alive! Does any of my or your god ask to kill someone just because of religion?’ The villagers stood in silence and accepted the situation as the will of god.

The villagers have lived in harmony. The elderly woman in the picture came to greet my mother this Diwali. I asked her about the precarious and communally charged situation and how they had escaped. She was a kid then yet she vividly remembered the humane gesture of my great grandfather.


Author/Contributor: Abhimanyu Singh Rathore The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author(s) and other contributor(s), if any.