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Seventeen years after she married Yunus Ansari against her family’s wishes, a lot has changed for Rajeshree Naishetty, except her religion.

The 35-year-old woman — who is now mother of three, Amina (15), Shoeb (11) and Aryan (9) — has been organising Ganesh Utsav near her house in Limbayat area of Surat for the last 10 years.

Rajeshree says that besides her’s, she applies to the Ganesh Utsav Samithi of Surat for permission to hold the puja in the name of Rehana and Arefa Shaikh.

Rajeshree, who runs Ekta Mahila Vikas Mandal in her area for the welfare of women from downtrodden sections of society, says several people from the two communities in the area participate in the puja organised by her.

“We celebrate Ganesh festival every year, which brings communal harmony in our area. Hindus and Muslims take part in puja and other activities in the pandal for 10 days. I wish festivals were celebrated in this manner across the country to develop a good bonding among people,” Rajeshree says.

She further says she celebrates festivals of both the religions with equal fervor and even observes fasts during the month of Ramzan.

Rajeshree says she and Yunus, who runs a textile business, got married after eloping 17 years ago. After the marriage, their families maintained a distance from the couple but they reunited after the birth of their first child Amena.

“I am happy with what I have got from my family and relatives,” says Rajeshree, adding that her in-laws never pressurised her to change her religion or customs.

Limbayat is not the lone area in the city where such communal harmony prevails.

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