Communal harmony:Godhra village shows it

Vadodara: The very name Godhra conjures up the horrific images of the 2002 train burning incident and the communal riots which followed, but a village nearby shows the spirit of harmony. Vejalpur, 12 km from Godhra, in the neighbouring Panchmahal district, has a mixed Hindu and Muslim population of around 15,000, and Diwali is a fun time for both the communities.

The celebration not only cuts across the religious divide, but is also unique. For, the villagers stage a mock-fight between two teams, where the weapon of choice is `Kothi, a locally made crakcer.

Mehbub Kadri, a local, said, "We celebrate Diwali with the Hindus….The village has a unique way of celebrating Diwali. Two groups, armed with a locally made cracker, have a fight." Kothi is made by the people of local Kumbhar (potter) community. An earthen pot is filled with an explosive mix to make a Kothi, which the two groups launch at each other, he said. "Nobody is injured in this sport," Kadri claimed.

Ibhrahim Kathiya, deputy sarpanch of the village, said the celebrations were reciprocal; the Hindus visit Muslim homes on Eid, and partake of festivities.