‘It was the most amazing moment, the two of us praying together in the same room’
Falitaa Chhabra, 27, is a Hindu. She was born in Bombay, India and now lives in Toronto, Canada. Here she tells us about her Muslim friend Maryam.
I met Maryam in my first semester at university in an Accounting class. We sat next to each other and ending up talking about something that she was wearing. She was born and raised here in Canada but her parents were from Pakistan. Her mum used to describe her as ‘whitewashed.’ She couldn’t speak Urdu well, which was her parents language, and although her family was Muslim, she wasn’t your typical Muslim girl. I wasn’t that into my faith when we first met, but as we became closer friends, we each started getting closer to our own faiths.
The Hindu celebration of Diwali and the Muslim festival of Eid often fall in the same week because they both go by the lunar calendar. In our first year at university they fell almost on the same day. I was renting an apartment in downtown at the time, and over the phone my mum suggested I might want to do some puja, some prayers. Maryam was at my place and said ‘well I’ve got to pray, too.’ She asked if I had a “dupatta” or scarf to cover her head and perhaps a mat to sit on. I gave her what she needed and pulled one out for myself too. It was the most amazing moment, the two of us praying together in the same room, with completely different sets of beliefs and rituals, praying in different ways in different languages. But it didn’t seem to matter. I knew I’d never forget that moment for the rest of my life.