On Durga Puja, youth in Kolkata join hands for communal harmony


In the wake of various incidents that indicate growing intolerance in the country, a group of youth in Kolkata have come together to spread the message of communal harmony.

Under an initiative christened ‘hold my hand’, the group members dressed as a Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and a Christian are doing the rounds of Durga Puja marquees across the city and urging people to stand up against growing intolerance in society.

According to them, the use of hymns, carols, ‘azaan’ and gurbani helps create a new “symphony of communal harmony”.

Disturbed over the murder of scholar M.M. Kalburgi and the lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh, these young men have been calling upon the people to ‘hold their hands’ to put an end to religious discrimination this festive season.

“Amid the prevalent mistrust and growing intolerance that has engulfed the country, it is our duty to stand up and be counted. Dressed as Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian, we visit puja pandals holding hands and ask people to join us to spread the message of communal harmony,” Russel Aziz said.

The initiative is a brainchild of Aziz, a research scholar from IIT-Kharagpur, Arunima Som, another PhD scholar from Visva Bharati University, and some of their friends.

“Our message is simple. Let hymns, carols, ‘azaan’ and gurbani combine to create a new symphony of brotherhood. We have begun it as a small initiative with just a few of us, but we are sure that more and more people will join hands to create a better world,” added Aziz.

Bengali poet Mandakranta Sen, who returned her Sahitya Akademi Young Writers Special Award, has lent support to the initiative.

“At a time when fundamentalism is rearing its ugly head and threat to the country’s social fabric is growing, it is the duty of one and all to stand up. Only then will this small initiative become a movement,” Sen said.

“Today’s generation is not bothered about religion and communal issues. However, our country is facing testing times and it is for us youth to take charge. The onus is on us to preserve and spread communal harmony,” Arunima Som said.

With #holdmyhands, the youth brigade is also spreading the message of communal harmony on social networking sites and urging people to join in.