Sitamarhi (Bihar), Nov 16 : While violence over the expansion of a Hindu temple near Charminar in Muslim-dominated Hyderabad's Old City is hogging media attention, in Bihar's Sitamarhi district, Muslims have been quietly helping Hindus construct a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, ahead of the Chhath festival.
"Muslims are not only donating money for temple construction, they are also actively involved in ensuring that it should come up soon," Rajkishore Raut, president of the Shiva Temple Construction Committee, told IANS.
Raut, a school teacher, said the construction of the temple was a fine example of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood.
Mohammad Sadre Alam Khan, a villager, said that dozens of Muslims, including village head Akbari Khatoon, have contributed in one way or another for the construction of the temple.
"This is a positive development for the village as a whole," Khan said.
Another villager, Lalbabu Sah, said that villagers of both the communities were working jointly for the construction of the temple.
"The construction of the temple will strengthen harmony between the two communities and pave the way for greater cooperation in future," Sah told IANS.
Sitamarhi town, which had a history of communal conflict, witnessed rioting in the mid-1990s. Muslims comprise around 16 percent of the 105 million people of Bihar.
Just months ago, Muslims observing Ramadan helped in the construction of a Jain temple in Bhagalpur town in the state.
Mohammad Janeshar Akhtar even demolished a portion of his house in Bhagalpur to enable the movement of a 70-foot truck laden with a granite stone block meant for an idol in the temple.
Other Muslims had helped widen the street so that the vehicle could reach the temple without difficulty.
Earlier this year, some Muslims had helped in building a Hindu temple dedicated to goddess Durga in Bihar's Gaya district.
Muslims there not only donated money but engaged in the actual construction of the temple.
Earlier, a Muslim had donated land for a temple dedicated to god Shiva in Begusarai district. Mohammad Fakhrool Islam had given his land for the temple in the Muslim-dominated Bachwara village.
As Charminar and the Bhagyalakshmi temple abutting the 400-year-old monument get so much attention, these instances of collaboration between the two communities in temple construction cannot be ignored.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>)