‘Mohammed’ Parthasarathi Basu: this is the name which locals have given to the eldest son of Dipak Basu and the current caretaker of Basu’s Mosque.
The last three generations of the Basu family in Barasat, north of Kolkata, have seen lots of ups and downs. But what has literally stood through all of this is a small nondescript building bearing a small green placard on its top that reads,
“Prabhu ke pronam korun, Amanati Masjid”.
(Please bow down to the Lord)
Basu’s Mosque is a 10 minute walk from Barasat Dakbungalow More. Surprisingly, there isn’t a single Muslim in and around Basu’s Mosque. Only at a distance of some significant kilometers away, in areas of Madhyamgram will you find devout Muslims who come to Basu’s Mosque to offer their daily prayers.
The history behind Basu’s Mosque
The Basu’s accidentally inherited the mosque when they exchanged properties with Sheikh Wajudi Morol, who moved to Bangladesh after Partition. There was no mention of the mosque in any of the land agreements. Naturally, the family was at a fix as to what to do with it when they found it.
The Basu’s didn’t have it easy during Partition at the hands of the Muslim extremists. Yet, they took an exemplary step and decided to let all of their angst go. Lilabati, wife of late Niradkrishna Basu told her sons, “Ei Masjid-e baati dhuper jeno obhaab na hoye baba” (Let there not be a scarcity of care for this mosque, ever). Niradkrishna took it upon himself to renovate and rebuild the mosque, something which even age-old Muslims had never bothered to do, back then.
Basu’s Mosque has been an example for over half a century
Parthasarathi Basu keeps his Roza every single day in the month of Ramzan. His wife, Papia wakes up at 2am every night to cook his nightly meal during Ramzan. A few years back, his father also did the same. Owing to age, Dipak Basu is unable to keep his Roza now but that does not stop him from keeping a keen eye on the workings of the mosque.
Owing to age, Dipak Basu is unable to keep his Roza now but that does not stop him from keeping a keen eye on the workings of the mosque.
The Basu family has been weaving the magic of communal harmony since the past three decades now. The last rites of any dead individual is incomplete without a trip to this mosque. Any newly wed bride has to visit the mosque first before stepping into the Basu residence. The rice ceremony of a baby in the Basu family is performed by the Imam of this mosque.
During the Babri Masjid unrest, no fire of political or religious fanaticism had been able to disrupt the almost miraculous reign of peace inside Basu’s Mosque. The Basus have always protected their mosque like they’d protect their own house. Neighbours of Basu’s Mosque regardless of their religion firmly believe that this mosque is their safe harbor: it is indeed a ‘Jagrata’ Masjid.
However, there is zero tolerance for superstition in this mosque. You won’t find a raging business of amulets and trinkets here. The Basu’s even refused to take up promoting as a business fearing they’d have to deal with this holy piece of land. For similar reasons, there is no provision of cash donation in this mosque.
And this beautiful legacy is not just a Basu thing anymore. Vegetable seller Arshad Ali, auto driver Abu Hossen Mondal join hands in prayer along with Dr. Manotosh Mondal and officer Ashish Bandopadhyay while passing the mosque. People from all religions congregate here and partake in the daily Iftaar feast during the month of Ramzan.
While Indian politicians are busy mud slinging, while angry mobs are busy lynching, while agitated fanatics are busy burning down houses… Basu’s Mosque tucked away in a corner of Bengal bears the silent reminder of what India truly is: a spectacular nation full of beautiful people wherein each person lives to help another.
Image credits: Getty Images
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