Nafisa as Goddess Durga inspires interfaith unity, tolerance

Story by  Hena Ahmed | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 25-10-2023
The priest touches he feet of Nafisa to seek her divine blessings as per rituals of Kumari Pujan
The priest touches he feet of Nafisa to seek her divine blessings as per rituals of Kumari Pujan


Hena Ahmed/Kolkata

The Mrittika Durga Puja Committee of Kolkata chose to break traditional barriers by selecting Nafisa, a nine-year-old Muslim girl, to represent Maa Durga on Nabami (the Ninth day of the Navratri festival).

The decision has evoked enthusiasm and applause from the local community and beyond.

The all-women Durga Puja Committee members said they are following Swami Vivekananda's action of worshipping a Muslim girl child, and it has sent a powerful message of unity.

Nafisa was chosen for Kumari Puja, a ritual in which a young girl symbolizing the divine is worshipped and people seek her blessings.

Nafisa with all the women

She was dressed in a silk sari, her face made up. A priest washed her feet in a vessel while Nafisa sat on an aasna. The devotees joined in showering flowers and worshipped Nafisa as an embodiment of the feminine divinity, the Shakti.

The women were emulating Swami Vivekananda, who in 1898, had done a similar thin at the Kheer Bhavani temple at Tula Mula in North Kashmir. He had selected a Kashmiri Muslim girl for the Kumari puja, setting a precedent for religious inclusivity and harmony.

"We are following the footsteps of Swami Vivekananda, who taught us that the essence of religion is love, peace, and respect for all," said Pritha Gehlot, a member of the Mrittika Club.

Nafisa with women of the Mrittika Club

“The committee's decision to celebrate religious unity in the form of Kumari Puja reflected a broader message of bonhomie and religious harmony, promoting a society where different communities can coexist peacefully. This remarkable display of tolerance and understanding is simply admirable” said Sana Ahmed, a visitor.

ALSO READ: Katra: where Muslims facilitate pilgrims' journey to Mata Vaishno Devi cave shrine

“As Mrittika continues to spread the message of religious harmony through its actions, the world watches with hope in dire times. Such initiatives are vital in bridging divides and promoting unity among diverse communities” said Ziad Haider Khan, another visitor.