Sunday, March 22, 2015

‘Inter-cultural dialogue forms base for secularism’

“Secularism built on the pillars of inter-cultural dialogue and syncretic worship are the biggest contribution of the Deccan to Indian culture,” Rehmat Tarikere, writer said in Bidar on Wednesday.

He was speaking at ‘The Glory that was Bidar’, an international seminar organised by the district administration.

Different sects and schools of thought have the unmissable tinge of secularism, he said. “What is great about them is that they are part of the folk culture. The good news is that they are still thriving,” he said.

He gave examples of Ashtur village near Bidar, where believers worship the tomb of Ahmed Shah Wali as the reincarnation of saint Allama Prabhu. He listed several such shrines across Karnataka where cultures fuse and religions are indistinguishable.

“We need to remind ourselves that secularism is not an alien concept for us. It is died in the wool of the country’s cultural fabric. We are not secular because someone told us to be so. It is because we are deeply empathetic human beings who are open to thought and willing to befriend people from other cultures,” Prof. Tarikere said.

He lamented that purists in Islam and Hinduism were out to destroy the multi-cultural character. Sects like Sufi and bhakti traditions remind us that our styles of living are overlapping. We are not commodities that can not be put in watertight compartments that are only Hindus or only Muslims, he said.

It is alarming to see the incidents of moral policing on a rise. Even boys and girls from different faiths are not allowed to sit and talk, in some places. Such events need to be condemned equivocally by members of all faiths, he said.

He said that dialogue between different faiths and cultures was the need of the hour. “It is our strength and we need to preserve it. If we lose the tolerance, acceptance and empathy that could make us strong enough to entertain a thought that is opposed to our ideology, then we can have little cultural progress,’’ he warned.

At an interaction, Prof. Tarikere said that Islam was not unilateral entity with a single, defined dimension. It is a multi-layered concept with different hues, he said.

Chiranjiv Singh, former special representative of UNESCO, Appagere Somashekar of central university of Karnataka , Kalaburagi, P.C. Jaffer, deputy commissioner, Kishor Joshi, assistant director of tourism and others were present.

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