India is a land of unparalleled diversities. So eclectic are the cultures of this country that if one wishes to absorb them with an open mind it could take more than a lifetime for a learner. One doesn’t need to go too far to witness this multiplicity. Ahmedabad as it is today was initiated as a fortified city which gradually outgrew its boundaries and spread on the western side of the river Sabarmati. The east of river Sabarmati, old Ahmedabad, houses the majority of Ahmedabad’s Muslim population. It is during the month of Ramadan that the stark difference within the same city becomes evident. While one half of the city goes about its day just like any other, the eastern half, right across the river, is a display of merriment and brotherhood. It is like a month long Diwali!
It has become a human trait to cling on to one’s beliefs and lifestyle, and discard others’; however there are a few who take pleasure in these differences, using them as mergers rather than divisions. Henry Martyn Institute is an organization that is dedicated to promotion of interfaith relations and reconciliation. They create opportunities for people from different faiths to come together and have dialogue. Here each one openly listens to the other and makes an attempt to understand the other’s position as precisely as possible. The need to acknowledge the differences and to hear them out rather than to correct them becomes clear during these gatherings. One such congregation was organized by HMI with the help of Jeevantirth at Ramapir no Tekro, the intervention site of Jeevantirth.
On 2nd July, 2016 a group of Muslim folks arrived at Ramapir no Tekro, Vadaj, at the time of Iftar. After a daylong fast the Muslims break their fast at around 7PM; this is the most dynamic dinner setting one can witness. Groups of people share food from large dishes which adds to the environment of brotherhood. It is rare to witness this on the west of river Sabarmati. Men, women and youth of the slums of Ramapir no Tekro rejoiced in their chance to share this experience. About a 100 people shared dinner and dialogue about each one’s faith.
It is the lack of such exchanges that create misunderstandings and gaps between communities. There is a desperate need for people to learn and understand these differences. Not only does this help eradicate the fear, but also it increases trust and acceptance through differences.