Berhampur, October 7 (LocalWire): This non-descriptive village in Kandhamal district’s Daringibadi block has scripted a story of communal harmony of its own.
Each year, for over three decades now, the five-day community Durga puja is organised jointly by people from different religions – Hindu, Muslim, and Christian – in village Simanbadi.
Like in earlier years, the villagers of Simanbadi formed a committee including representatives from all communities for smooth conduct of the Durga puja in the Christian-dominated village.
While Sadhu Nayak, a Christian, is the president of the Durga puja committee that has two Hindus, Dharani Sahu and Ashutosh Sahu as the secretary and joint secretary.
Similarly, members of a Muslim family extended their cooperation to celebrate the Dussehra.
“We celebrate every festival including Durga puja, Christmas and Eid with the cooperation of each other,” Nayak said.
The village has a mixed population of over 3,000 Hindus and Christians.
“Before the celebration of the Durga puja, we consult with the heads of all religions, including the priest and Father of the church. The practice has been maintained since the beginning of the puja,” he added.
“Without any ill-feeling over religion, every family in the village contributes for the grand celebration of the puja,” a primary school teacher Ashutosh Sahu said.
“Although we will not be performing any rituals during the Durga puja, we enjoy it,” a local Munna Khan said.
“We are helping in the preparation of the pandal and in managing the day to day affairs,” Nayak stated.
The Puja committee has planned several entertainment programmes during the period.
Besides staging a play on the last day, a day after Dussehra, several folk dance performances have also been included during the festive night, the committee secretary said.
Claiming that their village was a model village that showcases how communal harmony can be maintained, Nayak pointed out that when the entire district was burning in communal-ethnic violence in the aftermath of the killing of the senior VHP leader Swami Laxmananand Saraswati in August 2008, Simanbadi had maintained calm.