Gujarat village offers mantra of communal harmony
Palanpur (Gujarat), Nov 3 (IANS) Amid communal tension and regional strife in different parts of the country, a village in Gujarat has a happy story to tell. Around 5,000 people got together Monday to inaugurate a renovated dargah (Muslim shrine) in the village that is home only to Hindus.
Aloda, a small village in Mehsana district, provided a lesson in communal harmony as the villagers undertook the renovation at a cost of Rs.1.7 million and called Muslims from neighbouring villages for the inauguration ceremony on Lab Pancham, the fifth day from the Gujarati New Year that fell on Oct 29 this time.
'Our joy knows no bounds as the renovation of Fakir Bava's mazar (tomb) is complete and is being dededicted to the village on Labh Pancham,' said Nutan Desai, an Aloda resident.
The shrine is dedicated to Sufi saint Saiyed Badru Rehmat-ulla Alai, popularly known as Fakir Bava.
'Ours is a village where not a single Muslim lives, but all of us were unanimous in our decision to rebuild the 700-year-old mazar that was badly damaged during the last earthquake,' Desai said.
'Not a single penny was collected from outside the village,' the villager added.
Maulana Mustakh Ahmed Thadoyarda of a nearby village said he was happy to have performed the inaugural rituals at the shrine.
'There was no contribution by any Muslim in the renovation work,' Thadoyarda clarified.
'Aloda has set a rare example of communal harmony. We pray to god that others will also follow the example provided by this small village,' the cleric added.
Khalil Ahmed, another cleric of a village nearby, said he was specially invited by the villagers to participate in the inaugural ceremony.
'Saiyed Badru Rehmat-ulla Alai had come from Mecca and settled in this village and he was well-known as a Sufi saint in the region,' Ahmed said.
'We have been specially invited and we cannot express our happiness in words,' he added.
Yunus Abbasbhai, who was present at the function, said: 'People come here and pray for their wish fulfilment. When their wishes are fulfilled, the pilgrim comes back and places 125 earthen lamps at the dargah. One lamp is always placed at the temple of (Hindu goddess) Varahi Mata's shrine situated just behind the dargah.'
He said this custom was in respect of the majority community's faith.
Virambhai Desai, sarpanch (village head) of Aloda, said that the villagers regarded the dargah as its legacy and revered it as much as the temple of goddess Varahi Mata.
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