In a rare sight, hundreds of people including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, spent time at the 170-year-old Modi Masjid in Bengaluru on Sunday.
This, after the recently renovated mosque threw its doors open to people of all religions to promote interfaith dialogue and allow people to understand the procedures and functions of a mosque.
The event named 'Visit My Mosque Day' was the initiative of Rahmat Group, a charitable trust. Even though the event was planned for 75-100 people, more than 400 people turned up at the mosque on Sunday.
"We had planned for 100 people but social media took it upon itself and widely circulated the event. Around 400 visitors showed up which included people from all walks of life. There were men and women who were lawyers, doctors, students and authors among the visitors," says Sadiq Sailani, connected to the Rahmat Group.
"It was an apolitical event and focused on exchanging culture. Most people have certain assumptions about Islam and have not gone inside a mosque. We wanted to break that assumption," says Suraj Chhabria, an activist based in Bengaluru who encouraged more visitors to turn up at the mosque on Sunday.
An interactive session was also held in which the visitors were encouraged to ask questions to clerics in the mosque. "There were questions related to feminism including whether women were allowed in the mosque in Islam. To this, we were told that there were no restrictions placed on women to enter mosques," Rheea Rodrigues Mukherjee, one of the visitors said. She also noted that those in the mosque were hospitable and that lunch was arranged after prayers and observation.
This is the second such event to take place in Bengaluru. The event was previously held in September 2019 by the Rahmat Group as part of a comparative religious study in which Christian students were invited to the mosque. "The visitors are shown what happens during prayers at the mosque and the explanations for procedures like ablutions and the postures that are seen while praying," Sadiq added.
The organisers had made it clear to visitors that the discussions will be apolitical and will not reference the controversy over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).