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Hotapara a Symbol of Communal Harmony

Hindu or Muslim – burial for everyone at Hotapara old-home

2014-03-01 19:26:27
Hindu or Muslim – burial for everyone at Hotapara old-home

Matinuzzaman Mitu, Thereport24.com, Dhaka:

People, irrespective of caste, creed and social standings, all gradually reach such a stage in life when they need care, support, love and compassion. Parents, throughout their lives, have supported their wards, wiped their tears and made them somebody to stand on their own they are today.

Now when they (parents reach old age) need support, care, consideration and love, what do the children do? Modern day reality is that the grown up children and many worthy citizens now have little or no time at all for them; they become impatient, short-tempered and snappy.

And, the worst that makes one upset is, they are made to feel worthless, burdens on their loved ones for whom, in their time, they had sacrificed so much.

Sometimes, the elderly people are not even this lucky, and are dispossessed of everything they ever had; their wealth and social status, their homes, and even their families.

And, at one moment, they find themselves dumped by their beloved kids to an old-age home even in Bangladesh today, the place where no senior citizen among us dare to have nightmares of.

However, the concept of old-age home is not that bizarre in Bangladesh as many people might think, all those have caring and serene environment and the missing link is the people the elderly people had cared for so much throughout their lives.

After paying a visit to such an old-age home at Hotapara in the district of Gazipur, this correspondent has come across a unique burial place in which followers of every religion including Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists are buried in the same place, following the same rituals of harmony, which rare even in this country.

The distinctive graveyard, used only for the people living at the old-age home, is situated at the Southern part of the home.

About the matter, Abu Sharif, caretaker of the home told thereport24.com that the rehabilitation home for the elderly people has a unique graveyard which does not follow the rituals of a particular religion.

“The Muslims are buried at a part of the graveyard while the people of other religions are also buried or cremated at other parts. A total 401 people of the home have been, so far, buried in the graveyard,” he said.

When asked about the people living in the home, Abu Sharif went down the memory lane and recalled the memory of an unfortunate old woman who could not forget the heart-wrenching afternoon that changed her life like it was yesterday.

“She’d had her and was resting in her room in Dhaka, when her son walked in and asked if she would like to visit the zoo, about an hour’s drive away.”

She was excited at the prospect of going on a car ride with her only son. “She was looking forward to spending some time with him,’’ she said. The frail septuagenarian agreed to the journey, not knowing that it would be the last time she’d ever see her son and his family.

“Although I was trying to make conversation with him on the way, he appeared to be deep in thought and was silent,’’ she remembered.

After driving about 40 minutes, once they were in a Gazipur Shal forest, close to the old-age home, her son stopped the car on the highway and asked her to step out to have a look on the forest.

“As I was surprised to see the place and about to ask him where the zoo really was, I saw my son starting the vehicle, and before I could call out to him, he sped off,” she said, a tear rolling down her deeply creased face.

Dr Mohammad Ali Siddiqui, an official of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), told thereport24.com that the idea of burying people of different communities is a unique concept; and it can be really considered a symbol of communal harmony.

(This report has been translated by Imam Hossain Bijoy and edited by Md. Al-Amin for thereport24.com/English)

Ends/thereport24.com/IH/AMA/Mar 01, 2014

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