New Delhi: “In religion, India is the only millionaire...the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined”, is a famous saying by American author Mark Twain which reflects the characteristics of unity in diversity of India.

One of the most vibrant festivals in India, Diwali, marked with food, glittering diyas, prayers, sound of crackers and above all, happiness and intimacy is celebrated by every Indian irrespective of caste or religion.

There is one locality in Delhi, Jamia Nagar (along the Central University Jamia Millia Islamia), where Muslims abound and the people there celebrate the festival in a unique way.

For Mohd.Sarbarul Hooda, Assistant Professor in Department of Urdu, JMI, Diwali is an expression for coming closer to each other for sharing joy and express respect to the rich cultural heritage of India. He says “Diwali is very close to me. I invite my Hindu and Muslim friends to my home and celebrate the festival together. For me the festival correctly expresses unity in India. Lightening of diyas makes me feel exceptionally happy.”

An active member of Jamialive (a Facebook group of alumni of Jamia Millia Islamia) shares, that for her, the festival of light is all about sharing the joy and sorrow all together as social beings.

Expressing the religious belief of Islam she says, “Bursting crackers is not allowed in our religion just because it leads to the wastage of money which can be otherwise used for helping the needy, thus utilizing it in the real sense. Still children do enjoy being part of the fun of bursting crackers so we usually try not to squander away a huge amount of money in this, instead some phuljharis are preferred besides sharing of sweets, greeting cards and visiting Hindu friends during the festival.”

Remembering the fading tradition of lighting earthen diyas post graduate student of the university, Naz Khan says, “I still prefer diyas over the electric lamps that are being used commonly these days. Illuminating the houses with earthen diyas were the moments that I cherish the most.”  

Ashraf Akhlaque says he shares happiness, just like the sorrows, during the festival with his Hindu friends.

“We celebrate the festival of light with great pomp and show with our friends and neighbours. I used to save some money to buy firecrackers from Charkhewalan (a famous street in Old Delhi) during my school days,” says Mohammad Asif, a civil engineer and a resident of Old Delhi.

For Jawed living in Nai Basti area along the university, the real zeal of the festival lies in the colourful crackers, lip-smacking delicacies and new clothes.  

Diwali is celebrated in a unique way by an elderly, Rehana, living in the walled city of Delhi. She says that the festival is an opportunity when she can unveil her skills of applying mehndi and drawing rangolis in the houses of Hindu friends.  

Unity in Diversity is India’s one of the most unique features and strong point. The rich traditions prove that diversity does not pull people apart here; in fact, it brings them closer – festivals are just a manifestation of the same.

Sonakshi Kishore