In an unique example of communal harmony, a Muslim man has been presiding over Durga Puja celebrations in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh district for the past 23 years.
Sheikh Salim Niyariya, a 50-year-old Congress Corporator, has been managing ‘Handi Chowk Durga Committee’ at Handi Chowk area here since 1992.
“Handi Chowk Durga Committee has three Muslim office bearers (out) of the total 25 members who play an active role in organising the puja,” Niyariya told PTI.
Muslim ‘karigars’ (artisans) are also a part of the team that decorates the deity’s pandal, he said.
Niyariya presently holds the post of Speaker of the Raigarh Municipal Corporation.
He not only incepted the Durga Puja by installing the Goddess’ idol but also initiated the culmination procession before idol immersion on Navmi (the ninth day).
He has also set up a Hanuman temple in the area.
“Peace and harmony of this locality is an example to the nation. Both Muslim and Hindu communities take part in each other’s festivals with full enthusiasm,” Niyariya asserted.