The union of marriage is known to bring families together. However, in this particular instance on June 12, 2022 the union brought together families from two religions. A Hindu family reached out to the local police in the Uluberia region of Howrah, West Bengal to ensure that their neighbour Pakiza enjoyed a joyous and worry-free wedding, despite prohibitory orders issued due to an eruption of violence in the area.
According to a report in The New Indian Express, a Muslim widow Iddenesa Mullick was able to conduct her daughter’s wedding with the help of her Hindu neighbours. Mullick lived in a small house off the national highway 6 with three daughters and one son. On Sunday she had planned to marry off one of her daughters Pakiza Sheikh Mokkabir.
However, Mullick had not anticipated the June 10 protests that broke out in condemnation of suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma’s remarks on Times Now. Their neighbourhood came within the purview of prohibitory orders issued under Section 144, in wake of the anti-Nupur Sharma protests. Unsure of how to arrange for her daughter’s travel and the reception of guests, Mullick resolved to postpone the wedding entirely. It was then that her neighbours came to her rescue. According to the widow, Tapas Kodali, Lakhikanta Kayal and Uttam Dolui promised to take care of everything. From welcoming the groom and guests to ensuring Pakiza’s safe journey to her in-laws’ house, the family participated in the marriage function.
A person from the Hindu family told the publication that the two families had grown up in the same village. Although Mullick had lost her husband eight years ago, they watched the mother with her children participating in events organised by the local club. They resolved to support Mullick and approached the police to get permission for the marriage assembly.
Around 300 guests were invited for the wedding although only 150 turned up. Mullick said that the Hindu neighbours welcomed all of them and took care of food and other preparations. Further the family also helped arrange for a car to take Pakiza to her new home. Mullick said, "I will be grateful to her neighbours for the rest of my life." Meanwhile, Kayal said, "It is our duty as citizens to stand with Mullick." Even the groom Mokkabir said he was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome and thanked the family for the smooth ceremony.
At a time when the hardliners and extremist groups are busy spreading communal hatred, such heartening examples of communities coming together to help each other in times of need, help strengthen India's unique secular fabric and constitutional values.