Nearly two dozen Muslim businessmen and their family members have been performing Ganesh puja for the last 10 years in Bhubaneswar, capital of Orissa.
A majority of them are fish traders. They organise the puja by constructing a huge pandal and installing an idol of Lord Ganesh in keeping with Hindu rituals.
"We have formed an organization called the 'Jawan Matshya Byabasai Sangha Puja committee' and all Muslims are its members," the secretary of the committee, Seikh Mustafa, said.
He said the members organise the puja for 20 days, with local Hindu families also contributing. "We immerse the idol in the local Kuakhai river after the conclusion of the puja," he told rediff.com
But, Mustafa added, while they perform the puja according to Hindu rites, they also recite a few lines from the Quran daily, and conduct Islamic prayers for about two hours while immersing the idol.
Like in the past, this year too the Muslims have constructed a huge pandal in their locality depicting a mosque and begun performing the puja from Tuesday. "Every night we have planned to organize cultural programmes," Mustafa said. "We wear roza [the Ramzan fast] dress, but chant Hindu mantras."
Though this endeavour has failed to draw much publicity in Bhubaneswar, the puja organisers are encouraged by the response from other places. "We have received more then 9,000 messages from all over the world supporting our attempt," Mustafa said.
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