In death, religious harmony is found alive at the cemetery in Patrokhola Tea Garden in Moulvibazar’s Kamalganj upazila.
The bodies of Muslims, Hindus and Christians are buried side by side, with no visible divisions.
The cemetery is surrounded by a temple, a church and a mosque. In the distance is a large playground where waz mahfils, kirtans and church ceremonies are held, exemplifying its non-communal side.
Such events are attended by priests of all religions.
Parul Corraya, 65, the local union parishad member, told this correspondent that the cemetery was developed on around 50 acres of land in Madhabpur union.
“My grandfather told me he had seen the cemetery since his childhood. Initially, only Hindus and Christians were buried here but after independence, it was decided that Muslims too could be buried.
“There is no divider wall in the cemetery.”
Ashabul Islam Shaon, a local, told this correspondent that sometimes different funerals of different religions take place at the same time.
“Most of the locals are invited to the programmes regardless of their religions,” he said.
Gourob Urang, another resident of the area, said, “The dead bodies of my father, uncle, my Christian friend and my Muslim neighbour all rest peacefully next to each other in their final beds.
Locals agreed that the cemetery had played a vital role in strengthening relations between people of different religions.
Rajesh Pandit, Hindu priest of the Patrokhola Tea Garden public temple, said, “The people of Patrokhola people have a non-communal spirit...That’s why we can all independently perform the rituals of our respective religions.”
He hoped the future generations would continue to pursue a society free of religious violence.
Patakhola Tea Garden Jamee Mosque Imam Md Abdul Aziz said, “I participate in any festival [Hindu, Muslims and Christians]. I want this spirit to be upheld in the future.”
Setu Rema, pastor of the Baptist Church in the tea garden, said the cemetery was a rare example that the rest of the world could follow.
Regarding the history of the cemetery, Selim Chowdhury, manager of the tea garden, said the cemetery was not made this way for a shortage of land but was rather designed to promote and teach religious harmony. He said the people here had been imbibed with this spirit for decades.
In such a languorous setting, what rings true is that while religion is for individuals, the inevitable resting place is for all.