Izmat Khan and his family put together tableaux for Durga Puja in Odisha’s Cuttack. While people are discussing the communal disputes, Cuttack provides us a heart-warming example of communal harmony. In the Banka Bazar, many Muslim families supply decorative items for the Dusshera Pujas. Khan says that they work on the pieces two-three months in advance. “I have been working since my 20. My father was also doing this work. We have been doing this tableaux work over generations. We have never faced any discrimination. The Puja Committee members always behave nicely with us,” Khan said.
The entire Banka Bazar area houses Muslim families who design and decorate the Durga Puja items and pandals. The committees and the people seem to be very happy with their work and respect the artistic work and the communal harmony in it. “Art does not have religion and caste. We are happy to say that Muslim families have been doing tableaux decoration work for us. They are very talented artists. We celebrate festival together. It’s a contribution to our communal harmony,” S.Karmakar, Joint Secretary, Durgabari Puja Samiti, said.
According to says Shamim Khan, another artisan involved this business- “We all live together. There is nothing like Hindu and Muslims. We go and work in their Pandal and they give us a lot of respect. There are no differences between Hindus and Muslims.”
These artisans also supply materials for other Hindu festivals like Laxmi Puja, Ganesh Puja and Kali Puja. One tableaux ranges from Rs.30,000 to 2,00,000 depending on the artistic work involved.