Darjeeling – A group of religious heads and academicians have come together to revive once active inter religious forum in Darjeeling Hills. The core team met at Ashyana, the residence of Dean of the School of Arts at Sikkim Central University Prof Irshad Ahmed, 11 November 2017.
“The team plans to revive the decade old Forum with new initiatives to bring the message of peace and religious harmony to the different communities of Darjeeling and its surrounding,” says the Secretary of the Forum, Salesian Fr (Prof) George Thadathil.
Principal of Salesian College Dr Thadathil narrated the history and purpose of the common inter community events being planned.
Each of the members expressed their community’s commitment to the cause of preserving the unique feature of harmony prevailing in the hills.
It was decided to meet again on 3 December at Dali Gompa and bring together a 100 strong representatives from the six different communities on Sunday, 17 December 2017 at 2.00 pm in the Dharma Chakra Hall on the second floor of City Plaza, Darjeeling.
Besides Prof Irshad and Prof George Thadathil, participants at the eliberations included Asst Secretary of Daly Monastery Mr Pembala Tshering, Secretary of Dharma Chakra Centre Mr Gautam Tamang, Advisor of Sai Samity Balvikas Kendra Mr T.R. Sharma, Secretary Jain Association Mr Vidyut Jain, and Teacher at Bijanbary and Secretary of Himalayan Islamic Centre Mr. M Ahmed.
According to Census 2011, Hinduism is majority religion in Darjeeling city with 66.51% followers. Buddhism is second with 23.91% followiers. In Darjeeling city, Islam is followed by 3.94 %, Christianity by 5.13 %, Jainism by 0.21 % and Sikhism by 0.08 %. Around 0.09 % stated ‘Other Religion’, approximately 0.12 % belong to ‘No Particular Religion’.
The majority of the populace of the hills are ethnic Nepali including indigenous ethnic groups like the Lepchas and Bhutias.
The Indian Gorkha ethnic groups include Limbus, Rais, Yakkhas (Dewans), Sunuwars, Sherpas, Tamangs, Yolmos, Damais, Kamis, Newars (Pradhans), Magars, Bahuns and Chhetris.
Other communities in the hills are Bengalis, Marwaris, Anglo-Indians, Han Chinese, Biharis and Tibetans.
Languages spoken in Darjeeling include (Nepali), which is the predominant language; others are Tibetan, Hindi, English and Bengali.