Mumbai is home to at least eight of the world’s religions -Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Jews, Jains and Christians — including Catholics — coexist (peacefully, for the most part) here. The breakdown of religious groups is reflective of national diversity, with Hindus at 68% and Muslims at 19%. Perhaps, because the first settlers after the native Koli fisher folk were Parsis (non-Hindus), the city’s populace is largely tolerant of others’ religions. Each community tends to loudly and boisterously celebrate their particular festivals – churches will be lit up for Christmas, firecrackers will explode across the skyline for Diwali, and every market will sell goats for Bakri Eid.
Apart from the 1993 riots, the city has remained largely unscathed by communal tensions.In fact, the city’s police force and local leaders, both Hindu and Muslim, have worked hard to control the situation every time there is a flare up. When a Muslim biker was beaten up by Shiv Sena activists,Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria rushed to the spot, Muslim activist Yasmin Sheikh stopped young Muslims in Nagpada, incensed by WhatsApp rumors, from rushing to Lalbag, and the Shiv Sena, who is now in the government,were busy trying to control the furious Hindu mob rather than leading it as they did during the 1992-‘93 riots.While large scale violence has come to a halt, micro-agressions do exist – for example, Muslims are routinely denied apartments by housing societies.
Despite its modern outlook, Mumbai is a deeply religious city. If you can’t make it to the city during one of the festivals (Ganesh Chaturthi in September, Diwali in October-November, or Holi in April), take a day to visit some of the sacred sites.