Interfaith dependence in Chandni Chowk
Chandni Chowk is the oldest part of Delhi, India. It’s small by lanes, bustling markets, colourful merchandise, famous delicacies and unimaginable number of people makes it a must see when one is in Delhi.
You can find the most important mosque of India (Jama Masjid), along with one of the holiest Gurudwaras (Gurudwara Sheeshganj), one of the biggest Jain temples and some well known Hindu temples here. Orthodox Hindus and traditional Muslim families live and work here.
Every time a conflict between Hindus and Muslims happens in some part of India, everybody starts to worry if things will remain peaceful in Chandni Chowk. Yet things do remain peaceful, and the place has never witnessed any communal violence. That is not to say that tensions don't arise. Yet they diffuse quickly. Why?
Chandni Chowk is very well defined vocationally. The Muslim community specialises in traditional embroidery, accounting, hair cutting and they own some of the famous restaurants in the area. The Hindus are local shopkeepers, grocers and stockists of wedding decorations.
When the tension starts, the Hindus don't cross to the Muslim blocks and vice versa to avoid conflict. But till how long can the Hindu shopkeepers function without their accountants and how long can the Muslim families live without buying groceries.
The interfaith life takes over and tensions diffuse. It is this interfaith dependence that makes Chandni Chowk stand out as an example of resilience. This dependence is accentuated by proactive celebration of communal harmony.
We just celebrated phool walon ki sair (procession of florists) led by shehnai players in which the secular group of florists offer flowers to both Muslim and Hindu places of worship in old Delhi.
The example of Chandni Chowk inspires me to do interfaith work. May the communities live with each other peacefully and joyfully around the world!