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Bishwa Ijtema

 A ‘one of a life time’ experience I had, when I attended Bishwa (World) Ijtema at Tongi in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, this year. It is the third largest Muslim congregation in the world following Arabeen gathering in the ground of Kerbala and Hajj at Mecca.

I really had no idea of what I was going to witness before I landed in Dhaka and headed for Tongi. Millions of people had thronged the place around Tongi station by the river Turag.

My eyes of a photographer could see patterns in frames, made by human beings, like never before. My heart, as a visitor from a neighbouring country, could feel the oneness of them irrespective of religious beliefs. I realized that in spite of differences in practice of life, when it comes to gatherings like this, there is a faint yet strongly felt similarity between Ijtema and Kumbh or Gangasagar Mela that I had experienced before. That is, I believe, because congregations as such have one aim in common and that is, praying for wellness of one and all, for well being of mankind.

The enormous crowd would come to a standstill at their places, no matter where they are, when they hear the Azan for prayers and create a pallet of rainbow colours for me, to paint by my camera. I saw people at the makeshift tents for pilgrims, at the stations, at the top of a running train, on the roads, on boats, offering prayers to the almighty and pleading for peace and prosperity for the whole world.

With my camera , I kept making my way through the colossal assemblage, where at every step, from behind the viewfinder, I found a new face that seemed known to me for ages. Once again I saw life, in its true sense, living to express, not to impress...