After controversy erupted on shashti when a recording of azān (Islamic call to believers of namāz or salāh) was played at a Durga Puja arena in Kolkata’s Beliaghata 33 Pally, a lawyer has taken the matter to a court of law. Shantanu Sinha has filed a case against Rintu Das and other organisers of the puja.
On 4 October, Beliaghata 33 Pally Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata reverberated with the sound of azān all of a sudden in the middle of the famous mantra recital by Birendra Krishna Bhadra that is played on AIR, Kolkata, every Mahalaya, the last day of pitripaksha, the fortnight when Hindus pay tribute to their ancestors. While those present on the occasion in the pandal were taken aback, the organisers contend that their idea was to promote “religious harmony”.
The organisers concede that they made an attempt to include the traditions of temples, mosques and churches in the pandal here. They say in their defence that they had included the sound of a church bell in the soundtrack as well.
— ANI (@ANI) October 7, 2019
On the other hand, advocate Shantanu Singha explained why he made a case out of the affair: “No Muslim will appreciate the voice of azān every 5 min. This was a completely political decision.”
The lawyer said about the case further, “Tell me how azān in a puja pandal helps in promoting communal harmony? I have lodged this complaint as a person. I will be sad if the Gita is recited from a mosque. Similarly, I am saddened by azān in a Durga Puja pandal.”
It was asked both on social media and in the real world whether a mosque or a church would allow Gayatri Mantra. Subsequently, even Muslims joined the protest, saying that a puja arena was not an appropriate place to invoke Allah.
Innovative themes are a hallmark of Durga Puja in Kolkata. Every year, a few current affairs make it to the themes of some famous pujas in the capital of West Bengal. Das and friends seem to have taken it a bit too far by not just clubbing Hinduism and Islam but also severely compromising on the Hindu aspect with an incomplete murti and near-total absence of rituals.
At the entrance to the arena, replicas of arms resembling those of the devi are shown holding not just the sign of Oum (ॐ) but also of Islam in the form of the crescent with a star and the holy cross of Christians, among symbols of a few other religions.