Haridas Koli and Javed Kalamba claim that they were surprised when they were told that they followed different religions simultaneously. They did not believe when they were told that Ganesha Chaturthi is a Hindu festival and Muharram is considered a sacred month only by Muslims.
Thirty-seven-year-old Haridas and Javed, 35, are not the only ones. People of Kurumbawada, a village in Maharashtra, less than 5 km from Belagavi district in Karnataka, grew up celebrating Hindu and Muslim festivals with the same enthusiasm.
The village has over 150 Muslim families and 200 Hindu families.
This year too, like they have been doing for the past 70 years, the Hindu and Muslims from the village are celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi. Not just that, it is Javed’s uncle Dasker Guri, who does the pooja on a few evenings.
“We keep the idol in Muharram Khana, a place which is used by the Muslims during Muharram. If a Muslim is conducting the aarti, he also chants the Hindu shlokas. Even we know verses from the Quran,” says Haridas, who is a farmer by profession.
The visarjan is conducted every six or seven years and not every year. The idol is simply stored in Haridas’ house and brought back to the Muharram Khana during Ganesh Chaturthi.
“We collect money every year and once we have enough money to buy one big idol for the next year, we do the visarjan. This idol will be now immersed in 2018,” he says.
Javed says that every religion propagates peace and brotherhood and that his village is a model that shows that people of different religions can live without any quarrels.
“We also contribute rice, lentils and other things required for ‘anna dana’ (food distribution). Mahaprasad (last day of Ganesh Chaturthi) is on Monday and all villagers will come together to prepare the food,” says Javed.
Javed says that his 7-year-old daughter, Sana, started crying when she was told Krishna Janmashtami was not actually a Muslim festival.
"My neighbours, who are Hindus, took her home and made her decorate their Krishna idol," he chuckles.
The people of the village celebrate most of the Hindu and Muslim festivals together, and they are gearing up for Bakrid, which falls a day after the day of the mahaprasad.