Members of different communities join hands to hold Durga Puja near Nuh, send message of communal amity

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Durga Puja pandal

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New Delhi: Barely a few kilometres from Nuh, which witnessed communal clashes on July-end, a group of people belonging to different communities is busy preparing for Durga Puja.

At least 40 families living in different parts of Sohna in Haryana have formed the Aravali Bengali Cultural Society and their first event is the Durga Puja. The Central Park Flower Valley, a residential society in Sohna, has agreed to provide space for the pandal.

From "dhunuchi nach" to "bhangra", the pandal will reverberate with dance performances on all days of Durga Puja and culminate with a "dandiya night".

Heena Nisat, a native of Kashmir who now lives in Sohna, is excited about making the arrangements for the pandal.

"The whole idea is to send out a message of communal harmony. What happened in Nuh shouldn't happen again. People from different communities are equally accepting of each other's cultures. That is why we have formed this society and in future whatever festivals will be celebrated will be based on this concept only," she told PTI.

Afsana, who runs a boutique in Sohna, has not only generously donated for the Durga Puja but has also decided to participate in the dance performances. She is especially excited about "dhunuchi nach", a traditional dance performed during Durga Puja, and has been attending rehearsals for it daily.

"Usually, residential societies organise some events on festivals but those are not open to outsiders. So the idea here was to just use the venue but make it a non-society event. It is open for all," she said.

A group from the Ramakrishna Mission led by Swami Shatamananda will also visit the pandal for a discourse on spiritual life.

Another member Anudeep Kaur is participating in Rabindranath Tagore's dance drama 'Shyama'. She is also excited about "sindur khela" where women smear each other with sindur on the last day of Durga Puja.

"I have many Bengali friends and I know what craze it is for them. But I have never participated in it. I am very excited about the 'sindur khela' of which I have only seen pictures so far. I am also participating in a dance drama titled 'Shyama'," she said.

Anindyo Sengupta, who lives in Sohna, said, "All festivals should be celebrated in such a way. When the violence in Nuh happened, we were very scared to step out considering how the situation was unfolding. But barring certain people, the situation on the ground was very peaceful. Hence, this is our attempt to show and encourage communal harmony."

Six people, including two home guards and a cleric, died in the clashes that erupted in Nuh and later spread to parts of Gurugram after a Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) procession was attacked by mobs on July 31.

The attack left dozens injured, including policemen, and led to the Haryana government imposing prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in Nuh and Gurugram, but the violence spread to neighbouring Sohna and eventually, to Gurugram.