“Ganga Ties Hindus, Muslims” by Mrigank Tiwari, Times of India
Tiwari, M. “Ganga Ties Hindus, Muslims.” The Times of India. 19 January 2011.
Ganga ties Hindus, Muslim
By Mrigank Tiwari, TNN
January 19, 2011
ALLAHABAD: Cutting across narrow divisions of religion and community, Ganga, which is considered to be a sacred river among the Hindus, also commands respect from Muslims, who feel that the national river cannot cannot be related to any particular race or religion.
“It is the unique Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb, which fosters a composite culture, wherein Muslims hold the river in the highest honour,” said an NCC officer, S M Mustafa, who also claims that not only for Hindus, but the rivers are also valuable to all Muslims in general and Shias in particular.
He added that every year on 15th Shaban (according to lunar calendar) on the eve of birth anniversary of their Hazrat Imam Mehandi(as), the Shia Muslims gather together at rivers all over the world before sunrise after offering morning Namaz and pray near the rivers till sun rise.
“We light candles, diyas (earthen lamps) and agarbattis (incense sticks). They write letters (Ariza) to their Hazrat Imam Mehandi(as), which is one of the best ways for us (Muslims) to stay in contact with our Imam,” Mustafa said.
The devotees express their feelings to him and if they have any difficulties or problems, then they can ask him for help. “These people bring their letters (Ariza) wrapped in dough (aata) and drop in rivers with a belief that it will be carried to their Hazrat Imam Mehandi(as). At present, he is in Ghaibat (occultation) and he will redress our difficulties and problems,” the NCC officer said.
He added that it is a duty of every citizen whether Hindu or Muslim to keep the rivers clean and come out with one heart and stop throwing plastic waste, carcass of animals, half-burnt bodies in Ganga.
Holding similar views educationist, Zafar Bakht said, ” We live on the banks of holy Ganga and it is our foremost duty to safeguard the sanctity of the river and keep it pollution free.”
Bakht added that speaking on the historical perspective the holy Ganga is mentioned in the Rig-Veda, the earliest of the Hindu scriptures. It is worshipped and personified as a Goddess, who holds an important place in the Hindu religion.
Hindu belief holds that bathing in the river on certain occasions helps attain salvation. People travel from distant places to immerse the ashes of their kin in the waters of the Ganga, this immersion also is believed to send the ashes to heaven.