DELHI: When UK priest Isaac Poobalan threw open his church for Muslims to pray one bone-chilling day, it was a sterling example of interfaith harmony. Atop Taragarh Hill in Ajmer, the call of the muezzin from Muslim areas in Anderkot and the tinkling of bells from the 16th century Jharneshwar Temple intermingle to create a divine cadence. Every morning, Mahant Vishnu Gopal Taparia scales the hilly tract to meet his Muslim friends. Every Tuesday, Muslim children gather around the temple for prasad.
It wasn’t always like this. Hindus began to migrate from here due to communal tension and Partition saw their complete exodus. “Finally, Muslim elders mediated and brought a priest for puja,” says Maulana Syed Noorul Haque, an advocate. “Since then, puja has been performed here every day.”
Meanwhile, in Parumala, 75 km from Cochin, St Gregorios’ shrine rises white and striking against the emerald green foliage. Here, Muslims and Hindus can be seen fervently praying in front of the saint’s relics. Youhanon Mar Demetrios, one of the Metropolitans of the Orthodox Syrian Church, says, “All our churches are open to people of all faiths. That alone is a welcoming gesture by our church.”
Read more: Communal Harmony