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Azaan played in a ‘secular’ Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata sparks outrage, TMC leader Paresh Pal amongst key organisers

What has caused a lot of angst amongst Hindus is the playing of a recording of the azaan from the Puja pandal. Usually, Hindu religious songs in praise of Devi or recordings of the 'Chandi Path' are played from Durga Puja pandals.

A video of azaan (the Muslim call to prayer) being played at a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata’s Beliaghata 33 Pally area, sparked outrage on social media with the users lashing out at the organisers calling it “appeasement” and slamming their “desperation to show secularism”.

Following this, a local lawyer filed a complaint and named ten people, including the club secretary of the puja pandal and local TMC leader Paresh Paul. He is the primary organiser of this community Puja, who is also the local MLA.

On Friday evening, Santanu Singha, a Calcutta High Court lawyer, filed a police complaint at the local Phoolbagan police station alleging that “religious sentiments had been hurt”.

The community Durga Puja at Beleghata’s 33 Pally (in south-central Kolkata) had been playing a recording of azaan since the festivities commenced on Maha Panchami (Thursday).

The complaint alleges that 10 people, including local Trinamool Congress leader Paresh Paul, intentionally tried to “disturb the peace and tranquillity in the state” by playing a video of the azaan during the puja. “Playing azaan from the venue of the puja is ridiculous and is a deliberate and mischievous act to hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus,” said Santanu Singha.

The entire pandal is decorated with religious symbols of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam — the Aum, crucifix and the star and crescent. Huge banners at the entrance of the pandal also display the three religious symbols with the declaration in Bengali: ‘we are one, not alone’.

The entire pandal is decorated with religious symbols of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam

But what has caused a lot of angst amongst Hindus is the playing of a recording of the azaan from the Puja pandal. Usually, Hindu religious songs in praise of Devi or recordings of the ‘Chandi Path’ are played from Durga Puja pandals.

However, the organisers defended their action saying that controversy is being created unnecessarily. “We all know that in Kolkata, Durga Puja pandals are created in a way as to give a social message. Our theme is amra ek, eka noye (we are together, not alone). To demonstrate the theme, we have used models of church, temple and mosque and have used their symbols. Our purpose is to show that humanity is above all religion,” said the club secretary of Beliaghata 33 pally, Parimal Dey.

Dev said to highlight the theme, a video with audio messages depicting three religions- Hinduism, Christianity and Islam- was played, as per the report.

Meanwhile, police have said the cyber cell is monitoring posts related to the Beliaghata pandal being shared on social media.

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