FROM A CORRESPONDENT
Sivasagar, August 28: At a time when the world is witnessing ethnic and religious clashes and hundreds of houses have been reduced to cinder due to the cycle of violence, the residents of historic Sivasagar town in Upper Assam has set an example by living in harmony for centuries irrespective of caste, creed or religion.
Within a vicinity of the historic Sivasagar tank, one of the largest man-made tanks in the world, four religious places belonging to separate religions stand in pride for at least two centuries.
Built in 1734 by Ambika Konwari, the historic Siva Doul is one of the most sacred Shiva temples in the country. The 104-foot temple, thronged by thousands of visitors every day, has two other Hindu temples – the Vishnu Doul and the Devi Doul.
The Sadar Masjid, situated near the Siva Doul was built in the middle part of the nineteenth century and is one of the most important mosques of the state. On the exit routes of the eastern and the western banks of the tank, two other mosques are situated.
The Central Baptist Church, the second oldest church in the State is situated on the eastern bank of the Sivasagar tank, about 150 meters from the Siva Doul. The missiories of the church, founded in 1845, took an important role in publishing the first Assamese newspaper ‘Aronodoi’.
The Baptist missiories of Sivasagar also spread Christianity in galand, which has majority of Christian population. The churches of galand often regard the Central Baptist church of Sivasagar as the Mother church.
Near the Central Baptist Church, the Buddha Vihar, foundation stone of which was laid in 1956, stands as a living example of commul harmony. The Buddha Vihar is adorned by a life-sized marble statue of Lord Buddha, gifted by a Burmese goodwill mission, who came to the state in 1948 and 1951 to heal the wounds of the three Burmese invasions of Assam. The statue, which was origilly kept at the house of former MLA Thanuram Gogoi, was shifted to the Buddha Vihar in 1969.
Despite the closeness of the religious places belonging to separate religions, people of Sivasagar have been living in peace and harmony for centuries. The town has not witnessed a single incidence of commul tension.
Senior citizens of the town, with whom this correspondent spoke to, said that the seed of harmony was planted by the Ahom Swargadeos (kings). “The Ahom Swargadeos never made any disparity on the basis of caste, creed or religion and gave equal opportunity to the people living within the Ahom territory. In fact, they gave away their own religion and culture and merged with the prevailing customs of the land they ruled,” a citizen said.
They opined that it is on the new generation to keep up the rich tradition and to live in peace and harmony in the days to come.