By Matters India Reporter
Patna: A group of student cultural activists has staged a series of street plays in five schools of Patna, capital of Bihar state, to promote communal harmony.
The background of this cultural activism was recent occurrence of communal riots in Bihar.
The plays, staged during April 9-12, highlighted India as a great nation with its multi-religious heritage. People follow different religions, but live in harmony. Do not destroy the unity and integrity of the nation, the plays stressed.
The nukkad natak (street play), Ek sadhe, sab sadhe (If one is controlled, all can be controlled) was written and directed by Hasan Imam, director of Prerana (inspiration) and Janwadi Sanskritik Morcha(People’s Cultural Front). It was staged by six members of Prerana, all college student activists.
The group pointed out that the freedom of India was won with the united efforts of men and women who belonged to different religions, cultures and languages. Today that hard won freedom is being destroyed by some politicians and fundamentalists who polarize people based on their religious identity, to promote only the majority religion, said Imam, who led the team.
Introducing the theme, sarva dharma sama bhav (Equal respect to all religions), the ideal given by Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of India, the organizer of the program, Jesuit Father Jose Kalapura, coordinator of Patna’s Inter-religious Dialogue Commission, quoted media reports to note that 822 communal riots occurred in India in 2017, an increase from the earlier years. He urged the students to hold on to this ideal to maintain the unity and integrity of India.
The students took a pledge to uphold the religious diversity and harmony of India, to celebrate the festivals of different religions, to respect each other’s religion in order to build a strong India.
The shows were put up in St. Paul’s School (two shows), Carmel School (one show) Don Bosco School (three shows) and St. Karen’s School (four shows), for students of class VII to X. Altogether some 5000 students had the opportunity to witness the plays.
Two representative students were asked to express their appreciation and evaluation of the play after each show.
Sukumar, an eighth grader of St. Karen’s School, said he was gripped by the powerful message of unity in diversity.
Shreya, a tenth grader in the same school, said she now understands how people’s minds are poisoned by fundamentalists who are out to destroy our nation. “I would keep away from such people,” she told Matters India.
Vineet, a tenth grader of Don Bosco School, said he was shocked to learn that there are anti-social elements who want to destroy the integrity of the nation. “We must foster the unity and identity of our country by fighting communal hostility,” he said.
Don Bosco School Director Alfred Rosario was appreciated the nukkad program for carrying pointed message in a short time.
Carmel High School Principal Apostolic Carmel Sister Serena Lobo said both seniors and juniors got the message presented very powerfully. She welcomes similar programs to foster inter-religious dialogue in the campus.
K. K. Kuriakose, Principal of St. Karen’s Secondary School, was happy that some 1,500 students of his 4,700-strong school were able to participate in the nukkad natak.
Edward Gaulstein, Director of St. Karen’s group of schools, the biggest school in Patna with 16,000 students, said he would welcome further programs to educate his students to become nation builders.
Father Kalapura told Matters India that he has organized 33 shows in 23 schools since early 2017 and would continue the campaign for religious harmony among students of other schools and colleges.