In a mega event that stood apart in times of religious polarisation, Madrasa-E-Arabia Anwar Ul Uloom in the small town of Bailhongal in Belagavi district saw both Hindu and Muslim couples tying the knot in one ceremony.
Of the 99 couples who got married, 10 were Hindu, following their respective religious rituals. The madrasa held the event on the 10-acre ground at Bailawad Cross outside the town.
Each couple got gifts worth about ₹70,000. The gifts included a refrigerator, a cot and bed, a sewing machine, and many other household items and clothes. Each pair had been asked to invite up to 100 people. A crowd of 25,000 that gathered to bless the newly-weds had lunch at the ground.
Shaikh Ul Hadis Mohammad Hanif Loharvi of Ahmedabad, who inaugurated the event, thanked the Bailhongal madrasa for organising the event. “This is a commendable act that should be replicated across the country. For centuries we have lived as brothers. We will continue to do so in future,” he said.
He congratulated members of the Issa Foundation, Jamia Faizanul Quran Ahmedabad, and Islamia Social Welfare and Educational Society of Bailhongal for organising the event and sponsoring the gifts. He urged the youth not to fall prey to vested interests who were dividing people of various religions for vote-bank politics.
Neelakanth Swami asked leaders not to make sensational speeches, but to focus on welfare of the poor. “All of us are born into different religions and follow them sincerely. But we should be tolerant of people of other faiths who live among us and live as neighbours peacefully,” he said. Shabbir Ahmed Kazi, vice-president of the education society, said the NGOs planned to conduct multi-faith mass marriages regularly.