Amidst the controversy of cow vigilantes and the general climate of intolerance, and the beef ban controversy across the country, Ayodhya provided a shining example of religious tolerance and respect for sentiments of the Muslim community during this year’s Bakrid.
In this holy town, also called the ‘Ram Nagri’ (City of Lord Rama), the slaughter and distribution of meat is banned by law and even cooked meat cannot be served publicly. But during the three days of Id-ul-Zuha, no religious leader or mahant has ever objected to the qurbani (sacrifical) ritual being carried out by the Muslim population here.
In Ayodhya, meat of any kind, cooked or raw, is neither sold nor served even during wedding feasts or parties. But, once a year, the local administration unofficially lifts the ban. This year too during the festival of Bakrid, the ban was lifted, though there was no official order.
‘Everything happens with a great understanding between the two communities,’ said a priest of the Rasik Nivas temple, Mahant Raghuvar Sharan. ‘Amid all the controversies over meat and beef, this town presents the best example of religious tolerance and respect to religious sentiments of the other community. ‘In fact, this system is so spontaneous nobody had even noticed it earlier. But now, in the era of intolerance when people are being attacked and killed over their food habit, Ayodhya has set an example,” said a local resident, Jamal Akhtar.
A former Corporator of the municipal board, Haji Asad Ahmad, said, ‘We have been observing qurbani here for a long time. Those families which want to offer qurbani on Bakrid do it without fear. We regularly offer qurbani in our houses every Bakrid, as we did this time too.’
Ashok Kumar, the resident magistrate said: ‘We have advised the local Muslims to observe the Bakrid festival without fear, and traditional rituals in the premises of their houses were allowed; the festival passed off peacefully under the atmosphere of harmony and brotherhood.’
A priest of the Saryu Kunj temple, adjacent to the Babri Masjid, Mahant Yugal Kishore Sharan Shastry, said, ‘Qurbani is the most important ritual of Bakrid, and if our Muslim brothers are observing it within the premises then why should anybody object. Instead I support the ritual. This shows our honest tolerance for the religious sentiments of the Muslim community.’ Surya Kant Pandey, a social worker, commented, ‘We are vegetarian and have never eaten meat, but we visit Muslim families on Bakrid to greet them, and we have no objection over qurbani that they perform.’