Hajo, January 16, 2019:
At a time when the entire nation has been seen fighting against allegedly “communal” policies such as the CAA-NRC-NPR, the annual Manikut festival in Assam’s Hajo saw unprecedented love among the Hindu and Muslim communities.
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The Manikut festival, which began in 1992 under the leadership of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), has gradually transformed into a star-studded affair, with people from all walks of life, including celebrities and artistes joining the procession to extend solidarity towards the festival that celebrates universal brotherhood.
This year, however, tensions are running high, after the publication of the National Register of Citizens on August 31, and the amendment of the Citizenship Act on December 12, 2019, amid outcry by the opposition parties.
However, casting aside the tensions for a day, people from various faiths came together to celebrate this day of togetherness and many local leaders — such as AASU’s Samujjal Bhattacharya and Lurinjyoti Gogoi — and artists (such as actress Barsha Rani Bishaya and Babu) — were also present.
The procession and festival, at the small town considered Assam’s ‘oasis of communal harmony’ is symbolic of how residents of this sacred place have learnt to live in peace.
It may be mentioned here that Hajo is home to Hayagrib Madhab temple, a four-century-old popular Vishnu shrine. The area is also considered holy by some Buddhists who believe Buddha attained ‘Nirvana’ here. The Powa Mecca mosque, constructed over 350 years ago, is located few kilometres away. It is believed the structure was made using soil brought from Mecca, Islam’s most sacred site.
Today, hundreds started the procession from near the Powa Mecca mosque and went till Hayagrib Madhab temple where it culminated in the festival.
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