Ashura is a one of the holiest days for the Shia Muslim community -- a day for remembrance and mourning, as it marks the 10th day of Muharram on which Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), was killed in the battle of Karbala.
While it is observed in earnest by the Shia community, it is also an opportunity for all Muslims to put aside sectarian differences and honour the memory of the Prophet’s grandson, thus reflecting upon the spirit of unity that the prophet (pbuh) had preached all along.
Meanwhile, the Hindu community is just ending Durga Puja, the festival that celebrates the triumph of goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura, symbolising the triumph of good over evil.
During this festival, Hindus call upon the primal and universal force of good to defeat all the evil in the world, and ardently pray for the wellbeing of all.
And so, with all the violence, hatred, and misunderstanding dividing people around the world, it is more important than ever for us to remember the message of love and compassion for all, appreciate our common humanity, and revel in the abundance that is already available to us.
At the same time, it is incumbent upon all religious leaders of their respective communities to usher in a spirit of harmony and unity by promoting these values to their followers.
Let us remember that there is much beauty in diversity, and compulsion in conformity; and only when we learn to respectfully acknowledge and willfully celebrate diversity, can we begin to heal and eventually thrive.