Police get Muslims, Christians to join festivities in north Chennai
8 Sep 2008, 0627 hrs IST, A Selvaraj,TNN
CHENNAI: As part of the initiative taken by the police , leaders of the Muslim and Christian communities joined the Vinayaka procession in a northern suburb, setting an example that could go a long way in ensuring that the event remains free of communal tension in the city.
In Mathur-MMDA near Madhavaram, a group of Muslim residents and Christians welcomed and cheered processionists carrying the Vinayaka idol for immersion. As a mark of harmony, the religious heads exchanged shawls.
Local residents, traders associations and various political party cadres, irrespective of their ideology, had installed a 5 ft high Sarva Sakthi Vinayaka idol on the Second Main Road in Mathur on Vinayaka Chathurthi day on Wednesday. The Mathur-MMDA panchayat president K Ezhumalai (DMK), Devaraj (joint secretary of AIADMK youth wing), Senthilkumar, Rosaiah Naidu (Congress) and several other local political leaders had organised the idol installation.
On Sunday morning, when the idol was taken in procession, it was stopped near the Al-Masjida Jummah Mosque and welcomed by Muslims, including several women in burkhas. Led by the head of the mosque, Umar Hathab, they wished the processionists. Hathab and Ezhumalai also exchanged shawls.
“We have gathered here to show our friendship with other communities, to respect their religion and customs,” Ismail, a committee member of the mosque told, TOI. As a reciprocal gesture, Ezhumalai announced a grand feast for Muslims in the area on September 27, as part of Eid celebrations.
Later, the idol was proceeded to the First Main Road, where Christians had gathered to welcome Lord Vinayaka in front of the Evangelical Church of India. Led by the Rev. Williams Vallavattol, they welcomed the Vinayaka Chathurthi committee members and exchanged shawls as a mark of friendship.
“We had approached all religious leaders in Mathur-MMDA to take this new step towards communal harmony. I am glad they all agreed. Earlier I had organised a similar programme in Kayalpatnam in Tuticorin and it was highly successful,” S R Jangid, suburban city police commissioner, told The Times Of India.