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Title: Extent of Hindu-Muslim Syncretism in Rural West Bengal
Authors: Shyam, Rama
Keywords: School of Social Sciences
Roy Burman, J.J.
Issue Date: 2003
Abstract: The following study, as already mentioned in the topic deals with the `Extent of Hindu- Muslun Syncretism in Rural West Bengal'. Basically the interest in the present study was evoked in the light of the Communal riots that tore the nation apart after the cruel demolition of the Babri Masjid m Ayodhya. December 6 th 1992 was the day when the kar sevalrs took up shovels and hammers to wipe away the traces of a mosque that hurt their religious sentiments because it was supposedly built in Lord Rama 's birthplace. It is at the backdrop of this incident that the present study got conceptualized. The idea behind this being to study the patterns of coexistence between Hindus and Muslims m a country where both the communities have been living together for centuries together. It was disturbing enough to imagine that neighbours who have been sharing joys and sorrows together would bay for each other's blood in the name of religion In fact such happenings dismantled the whole notion of religion as a way of life that bred tolerance and peace. It was found that very surprisingly communal conflagrations occur more frequently in the urban areas among supposedly educated people whereas the rural areas witness less of such tensions. Hence it became imperative to look for the particular institutions in the rural areas that contributed to the peaceful coexistence between different communities That West Bengal was chosen for the study us because here is one State that has witnessed the least amount of communal tension over the years and one fmds a wonderful symbiotic relationship between Hindus and Muslims in the villages of West Bengal. With this purpose in mind a village called Panagarh Grain in the Barddhaman district was identified as the field of the study. The study was undertaken with certain objectives in mind, they being: • To look for institutions leading towards peaceful coexistence of different communities m terms of cultural, social and economic ties. • To study the various syncretic shrines in and around the area. • To study the present trends in syncretic practices observed by different communities • To study the syncretic practices that lead towards religious tolerance and cultural unification among communities. • To 'study the social structure of the village with special emphasis on caste dynamics. Keeping in mind the nature of the study and the findings that would emerge it was but natural to go in for Qualitative Research Methodology. 'A large amount of the research data is based upon secondary sources in terms of earlier studies done on this topic. So one could say that apart fiom interviews and participant observation, Document based methods of secondary data has been used extensively in the course of the study
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