March 21 will truly be a special, blessed day as the calendars of five different religions will coincide. Each religion will be celebrating this in its own way. Muslims will celebrate Eid Milad-un-Nabi, the birth of Prophet Muhammad on Friday;. For the Christians, this Friday is no ordinary one for it is the Good Friday. It marks the cruxification and death of Jesus. Hindus and Sikhs will, for a day, forget all inhibitions and come together to celebrate Holi. Eid-e-Nauroz, the religious festival of members from the Baha’i faith will also fall on March 21. This is a community festival for the Zoroastrians as well as the Ismailis and Iranians.
Eid-e-Nauroz marks the Baha’i New Year. It is a Persian word meaning new (year) day. Before the commencement of the New Year, a 19-day fast in the last month of the Baha’i calendar is observed. Nauroz is one of the nine holy days of the year in the Baha’i religion when work is suspended. Nauroz also symbolises the first day of spring according to the astronomical vernal equinox.
The day of Holi is decided according to the Hindu lunar calendar, which is the full moon day of the Hindu month of Fagun. Holla Mohalla is an occasion to rejoice for the Sikh community. People celebrate this festival by coming out in the streets and smearing each other with coloured water and brightly hued rang. Originally a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land, Holi also commemorates some key figures in Hindu mythology. One such figure is Holika, who tried to protect her nephew Prince Prahlad from the wrath of his tyrannous father. Holi also celebrates the immortal love between Lord Krishna and his consort Radha.
We, the members from different faiths, should stand united on March 21 and spread the message of interfaith harmony. We need to rise above our differences and stand for a united country. For the first time in the history of our life, we have been blessed by such a day, when people from all different faiths will be celebrating their religious festivals on a single day. I prefer to call it a blessed weekend and see it as a sign from God to spread the message of religious tolerance. Especially in a country like India where communal riots are, unfortunately, commonplace, this day embarks a chance to reinvent the idea of religious brotherhood.
Apart from religious intolerance, we are also facing the problem of linguistic discrimination. What happened in Maharashtra with Biharis and what is happening with north Indians in the North-East, is really serious. The borders of states should not become non-porous or our India will get divided into 28 countries.
This ‘blessed weekend’ can well serve as an opportunity to reduce the distances between different faiths and to think above the crease of narrow mindedness. We should not think in the language of our state, but in the language called Bharat. Let March 21 become the day for not only religious tolerance but also cultural tolerance. It will not only give a social security but will also give us mental peace. Then, in a few days, we may consider those people as brothers and sisters, we presently hate. So come, let us celebrate this blessed weekend with great zest and fervour!
[image courtesy: http://flickr.com/photos/mtsofan/2096689418/sizes/m/]