Patna: In a shining example of communal harmony in India, Muslims have helped build a Hindu temple dedicated to goddess Durga in Bihar`s Gaya district, not just by making donations but also by supervising its construction.
"Muslims have not only donated money for temple construction, they have been involved in it like us," Suresh Prasad said about the shrine at Loco Colony near the railway station in Gaya town, about 100 km from here.
The temple was opened for prayers and worship last week.
Said Ashok Kumar, another resident: "There was active help from Muslims, all of whom are railway employees. This temple is a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity as both joined hands to construct it."
One of those involved was Tauhid Alam. "We have been living here for years and taking care of each other. It is a gesture for communal harmony," he said.
He said the foundation of the temple was laid in 2010 and after that Muslims and Hindus of the locality worked together to construct it.
"We joined Hindus to collect donation for temple construction and also supervise construction work," said Mohammad Rafiq, another Muslim resident.
Muslims personally donated and collected funds worth nearly Rs.5 lakh, locals said.
Mohammad Sahab said dozens of Muslims donated money and others helped by doing other works for the construction.
Muslims make up around 16 percent of the 105 million population of Bihar. In Gaya town, there are over a dozen Muslim localities.
Gaya is considered a communally-sensitive town and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been winning the assembly seat for over two decades -- thanks to communal polarisation of votes ahead of the polls.
But Lalji Prassad, a social activist in Gaya, said this move of the Muslims in the construction of the shrine would send a strong message of harmony and peace.
"It is a positive development. People active in public life should propagate how Muslims helped build a temple," he said.
Businessman Mahesh Agrawal said such cooperation should be encouraged. "If Muslims can help build a temple, Hindus should now come forward to help Muslims in their projects."
Earlier, a Muslim had donated his land for constructing a temple dedicated to Hindu god Shiva in Begusarai district. Mohammad Fakhrool Islam had given land for it in Muslim-dominated Bachwara village.
Over three decades ago, some Hindus had donated a piece of land for the construction of a mazar in the same village.