Patrokhola in Moulvibazar : A cemetery for all
If one visits Patrokhola Tea Garden in Moulvibazar's Kamalganj upazila, one will come across a serene cemetery.
Visitors would be surprised to read the names of the tombstones there. The one underneath a tree says Amina Begum, while the one next to it reads Mohon Das and another one to the right reads Philiman Biswas.
In death, religious harmony is found alive at the cemetery.
Here, the bodies of Muslims, Hindus and Christians are buried side by side, with no visible divisions.
The cemetery is surrounded by a mosque, a temple and a church. There is also a large playground in the distance where waz mahfils, kirtans and church ceremonies are held, exemplifying its non-communal side.
Such events are attended by priests of all religions.
The bodies of my father, uncle, my Christian friend and my Muslim neighbour all rest peacefully next to each other in their final beds. Gourob Urang, a local
According to elderly locals in the area, this century-old cemetery -- on a 4.94-acre or 15-bigha land -- was built by people of all religions in 1875, right when the tea garden was established.
Parul Corraya (65), union parishad member of Patrokhola tea garden, said, "Initially, only Hindus and Christians were buried here. After independence, it was decided that Muslims too, could be buried here. There is no dividing wall in the cemetery."
Ashabul Islam Shaon, a resident of the area and local journalist, said funerals of different religions are held here at the same time. "People are invited to attend the programmes regardless of their beliefs."
Another local Pradip Paul said Muslims attending their funerals and vice versa have become a tradition in the area. "Here, we all support each other," he said.
Resident Gourob Urang echoed him. "The bodies of my father, uncle, my Christian friend and my Muslim neighbour all rest peacefully next to each other in their final beds."
Locals agreed that the cemetery had played a vital role in strengthening relations between people of different religions.
Rajesh Pandit, a Hindu priest of the Patrokhola tea garden temple, said the people of Patrokhola share a non-communal spirit. Anwar Hossain, manager of the tea garden, said the cemetery was not made this way for a shortage of land but was rather designed to promote and teach religious harmony.
"I participate in any festival [of Hindus, Muslims and Christians]. I want this spirit to be upheld in the future," said Patakhola tea garden Jame Mosque Imam Md Abdul Aziz.
Setu Rema, pastor of the Baptist Church in the area, said this cemetery was a rare and inspiring example for the rest of the world to follow.
Mir Nahid Ahsan, deputy commissioner in Moulvibazar, said religion is for individuals but this cemetery is for all.