Agence France-Presse reported today that Dharmarajika, a Buddhist monastery in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, is serving food to Muslims this Ramadan, “in a rare example of social harmony between the religions in the South Asian nation.”
The monastery, they report, “has become a hit on social media since it started distributing daily food packs for Muslims who break their fast during the Islamic month at sunset, known as Iftar.” The abbot of the monastery, Suddhananda Mahathero, speaking to AFP, said:
“Buddhism taught us that serving humanity is the ultimate religion. We are feeding the poor Muslims who cannot afford to buy proper meals to break their fast.”
One of the Muslims who visited the monastery is quoted as saying, “I can eat some good food served with love and care.” And a policeman at the site said, “This is such a wonderful example of religious harmony: showing respect and affection to the fasting neighbours without thinking of the difference of religions.”
It’s not clear how much of a hit on social media they have beyond Bangladesh, as their (apparent) facebook page only has 178 “likes” as of now and a search of Dharmarajika on twitter turns up just a couple news stories and then stories dedicated to the Dharmarajika stupas located in Sarnath, India and Taxila, Pakistan. In any case, however, it is a wonderful example of the interfaith benevolence desperately needed in this part of the world and beyond. As I wrote last month about Burma (Myanmar), such acts are happening there as well – Buddhists and Muslims coming together in friendship, sharing, and mutual concern – but there, as in several nations in the area, the overall relationship is strained at best.
The AFP story concludes:
In September 2012, tens of thousands of Muslims vandalised and torched nearly a dozen Buddhist temples in the south of the country following allegations that a Buddhist man had desecrated the Koran.
Many Muslims took to social media to thank the Dharmarajika monastery for their food distribution, posting photos on Facebook of the yellow-clad monks handing out supplies. Others praised the monks on Twitter.
“I really appreciate the initiative and thank them,” Nur Hossain, a banker, told AFP.
Here are a couple of the tweets sent out in recent hours (click the pic.twitter link for images):
— Interfaith Ramadan (@InterfaithRam) July 8, 2015
— PKonweb (@PKonweb) July 7, 2015