Friday, March 24

West Bengal: Celebration funds to feed hungry mouths

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A day after chief minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to the people of the state to celebrate Poila Baishakh and offer Shab-e-Barat prayers at home this year to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, citizens have responded by not only cancelling all public celebrations but by also pledging to donate a big part of that money to help the section of the society impacted badly by the pandemic.

While several residential complexes across the city have cancelled all Poila Baishakh celebrations, many others have decided to redirect zakat, an Islamic levy to help the less fortunate, to help those impacted economically by the pandemic.

At Larica Tolly in the Tollygunge area, the 90 odd families have taken a collective decision to shelve Poila Baishakh celebrations and utilise the money to the help those who stay near the complex and have been impacted badly by the lockdown. “We will distribute 5kg of rice, 2kg of potatoes, 1kg onions, oil and soap among those who stay in the neighbourhood. Residents will be celebrating Poila Baishakh in their respective apartments,” said Sheikh Hassan Habib, president of the residents’ association and a medical practitioner by profession.

At Shukhobrishti in New Town, 150 families in one of the wings of the complex assemble at the community centre for a gala and dinner every Poila Baishakh. The entire programme has been cancelled this year. “We are following all the guidelines of lockdown to break the chain of transmission. We have cancelled the Poila Baishakh celebrations in the complex because we do not want to take any risk,” said Mainak Kanrar, joint secretary of the residents’ association. “We are extending all help to our less fortunate fellow citizens in every way, but we also have plans to do a collective charity which we will do as soon as we are in a position to hold a meeting of the members.”

Members of the Muslim community donate a fraction of their total worth as zakat, an Islamic levy, during the month of Ramzan, among the less fortunate. Many members of the community have decided to use the entire sum of zakat or a big part of it to help those impacted by the pandemic. “Daily wage labourers and those in the unorganised sector have been hit badly. It is our responsibility to stand by our fellow citizens. I will be donating the entire amount of zakat to help them,” said Mohammad Irfan, a businessman in central Kolkata.


Source: Times of India

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