JAUNPUR: A Muslim youth in Uttar Pradesh has now translated Hindu prayer Hanuman Chalisa into Urdu after noted Urdu poet Anwar Jalalpuri came out with his rendition of Shrimad Bhagwad Gita.
“I have translated Hanuman Chalisa in ‘musaddas’ style which comprises six lines. Like a ‘chuapai’ has four lines, ‘musaddas’ has three ‘shers’ and six lines,” Abid Alvi, who carried out the translation, said.
The youth, who hails from Jaunpur, said he was planning more such works, including translation of Shiv Chalisa prayer, as he felt that it will help people from the two communities to understand each other’s culture and beliefs.
ACCRA: Ghana’s population of 23 million includes 12,500 Hindus, of which 10,000, like their Swami Ghanananda Saraswati, are indigenous Africans. The African Hindu Monastery (AHM) is now Ghana’s largest centre of Hindu worship.
The AHM’s non-exclusionist attitude is apparent from the picture of Jesus alongside the Hindu gods on the main mantelpiece, as well as images of spiritual leaders from other religions. The monastery’s members also believe that the Supreme God is known by other names, such as Yahweh and Allah.
There is even one Muslim among the devotees. Jamer Baroudy says he was born into the Islamic faith but his mother introduced him to Hinduism when he was eight years old. Mr Baroudy says: “I am aware that Islam prohibits idol worshipping but then God doesn’t make any distinction. I visit this temple because I find solace here.”
The AHM is not just accommodating of multiple religious traditions but also open to people of all races, classes and communities. Indian worshippers are not only members of the dominant Sindhi community, but also recent immigrants: managers and contract labour alike. But most worshippers are Africans, again from different professions and backgrounds. When I asked a disciple about the group’s opinion of the caste system, he pointed out that there is no society in the world that does not break its people up into the privileged and the unprivileged, be it through profession, ancestry or race. Ghanaian Hindus like him, however, are clear that people have an equal right to education, the means to a good life and most importantly, religion.
KOZHIKODE: He is not a trained architect. He is not an artist. And he is not even a follower of Islam. Yet he comes up with most beautiful designs for mosques, so beautiful, his name has become synonymous with mosque building across Kerala.
Govindan Gopalakrishnan, 78, a resident of Thiruvananthapuram, has been constructing mosques all his life. But he is no ordinary contractor. He credits his ability to draw sketches for mosques as “bestowed by God.” For almost all mosque functionaries across the state, his name comes to mind when a new mosque is proposed or an old one is to be renovated.
The master designer is now busy with the construction works of Ilippakkulam mosque near Kattanam in Kollam district. But what brought him into limelight was his first work that dates back to 1960s when he was a school going child while he drew sketch for the dome of the famous Palayam Juma Masjid in Thiruvananthapuram. Several philanthropic businessman and even government officials decided to renovate the Palayam Juma Masjid as the earlier structure was then almost 200 years old.
Gopalkrishnan’s father was a contractor, whose blueprints of the buildings he constructed, prompted Gopalkrishnan to make a few sketches, which in turn, impressed Kerala’s chief architect. They worked in tandem to complete the mosque as per his designs. When the renovated, re-constructed mosque was inaugurated few years later by the then President Dr Zakir Hussain, Muslims were hooked by his style – domes, minarets, something innovative for the land endowed with natural beauty and where temples, mosques and churches are all built keeping in mind the local architectural traditions, in sync with nature.
BALI: In Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, this Ramayana ballet, performed in the Javanese style—a finessed form, associated with slow and deliberate movements—has been running continuously since 1961. In 2012, it was anointed by the Guinness Book as the most continuously staged performance in the world
“We are not just Muslim,” said Sotya, who was playing Janaka, Sita’s father, that evening. “We are people of Java. Here we learn Hindu and Buddhist stories, too.”
Temples in honour of Vishnu and Shiva are scattered through the islands, words from Sanskrit make appearances in the language, and names from the Mahabharata and Ramayana dot establishments and shops across cities. Still, in modern-day Indonesia, Hindus account for less than 2% of the population.
What is this culture that everyone in Java speaks of? In the nation’s most populous island, syncretism is locked into the DNA. It is bizarre for the Javanese to think of their religion and their cultural history as incompatible; Hindu stories are part of their legacy, even though their religious affiliation might lie elsewhere.
MUMBAI: The NGO, Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra, gave out scholarships amounting to INR5 million to students from Class VI to graduation level as well as engineering and medical students from various schools and colleges in Mumbai.
Since the NGO’s establishment, it has always worked towards the betterment of the society, by providing any sort of help, that too without any form of religious discrimination. People belonging to any of the communities are free to seek help from the organisation.
According to the press release, the scholarships were given to 400 students of which 50 were Hindus. The cheques were handed over in the presence of Maulana Mustaqueem Azmi, state president of Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra, Gulzar Azmi, president of its legal aid cell, Maulana Halimullah Qasmi, secretary and Congress MLA Amin Patel.
“This is not the first time that we have extended scholarships, we have given it earlier too and would continue to do so,” the release quoted Gulzar Azmi as saying, while speaking at the function organised to hand over scholarships.
TORONTO: A group of Greater Toronto Area Muslims is raising $10,000 to help repair Kitchener’s Ram Dham Hindu temple after it was vandalized on Sunday. The online fundraiser was inspired by a highly successful campaign to raise money for Peterborough’s only mosque after it was set ablaze over the weekend, says Arshia Lakhani.
“As Muslims we are quickly realizing that these hate crimes are not just affecting our community; it is not just our mosques being burned, or our people being attacked. This extends to all visible minorities who are victims of hatred,” the group wrote on its gofundme page.
“This is a time to show that love and solidarity between communities speaks louder than hatred. Please show your support.” The temple was vandalized when someone sent five stones crashing through two of the building’s windows.
History shows that many Muslim artists have produced exquisite paintings of Krishna. Centuries after they were created, connoisseurs delight in these enchanting revelations of skill and artistry.
The Mughal influence is visible in the Vaishnava devotional paintings, temple carvings and iconographic expressions. The supremacy of Krishna and the bhakti school was maintained by the Vaishnavas in the midst of an overwhelming Mughal influence during this period.
In the Mughal School, there was a considerable crossover between Vedic devotional themes and Persian style illustrations. After the Mughal Empire collapsed, Krishna leela scenes again proliferated in miniature works of artists under the patronage of non-Muslim states of Rajasthan, and from 1750 onwards, their work branched out into many wonderful schools of devotional art.
TRILOKPURI: Setting a precedent for communal harmony in the Capital, the Muharram procession in Trilokpuri saw the participation of both Hindus and Muslims. Members of the “Aman Committee” formed by the local police in the area had on Monday volunteered to lead the procession.
The gesture of solidarity was in response to the “jagran” day, when the Muslims had helped with prasad distribution.
A member of the Aman committee, Hans Raj said: “This is a message to the anti-social elements. Hindus and Muslims live here like brothers and we will continue to live in peace. No outsider can create fissures between us.”
Balaji Temple in Tividale near Birmingham was founded to meet the social needs and the spiritual aspirations of a large number of Hindus in the UK, especially in the Midlands. At the time of its opening in 1999, this was the largest temple of its kind in the UK.
Today, the temple is being visited by people from all over the country and from abroad.
The temple complex includes seven Faith hills created to represent seven major faiths in the United Kingdom and India. Seven hills on the site are to show our respect to seven major faiths and to reflect the seven peaks of Shri Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India. “Unity is divinity” is the motto of the temple and relevant for interfaith work. Lord Buddha’s statue, carved by a local sculptor, was installed on one of the hills in May 2001. Faith hill representing Christianity bears a plaque with an inscription “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself.”
MUMBAI: Mohammed Tahir and his wife Zubeida, main organisers of a local Navratri festival, have been celebrating since 1983.
Tahir said that his wife had dreamt of the Goddess and the couple has since been setting up a makeshift temple every year dedicated to Goddess Durga. “Every year, the temple has a different setting. We have made replica of the Balaji, Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu, Kedarnath and Badrinath,” said Tahir.
Zubeida said the temple was for everyone who believed that all religions taught different paths to reach the same God. “It is for everyone who believes in the unity of religions. We all celebrate it together, be it Hindu or Muslim. In fact people from various religions and regions come here,” said Zubeida.
Mohammad Tahir, 61, is a labour contractor and has been to Vaishnodevi temple 15 times. “I wanted to keep a Bhandara like that temple and asked the goddess for strength to replicate it in my area. People have been very helpful and have donated a lot of groceries. Over 700 people are fed here daily, after the evening Aarti. Till date, I’ve never had to ask for funds. They just come.”
Ram-Rahim Nagar has a population of over 20,000, of which 60% are Muslims and the rest Hindus – a delicate demographic composition that has remained undisturbed for the past four decades despite major riots in 1969, 1985, 1992 and 2002. The slum stretches roughly half a kilometre in the densely populated textile suburb, and was originally known as Gulab Bhai no Tekro, or Maharaj na Tekra. It was inhabited mostly by migrant workers from Banaskantha in north Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
After the 1969 riots, the slum-dwellers decided to keep away anti-social elements and came together to form a welfare society called Ram-Rahim Nagar. The year was 1974, and the men behind this initiative were the late Ghazi Bhai and the late Kashi Maharaj. “They were security guards at a textile mill. They finalised the name — Ram-Rahim — as a tribute to the fact that a Hanuman temple and a dargah stood cheek-by-jowl at our slum. Nurturing mutual respect and communal harmony ever since has helped us withstand every communal riot that hit Ahmedabad,” says Kanhaiyalal Parmar, a resident. “People here are not concerned with mandir-masjid because they know they will be the ultimate sufferers in the event of communal disturbances.”
Ram-Rahim Nagar has not experienced riots ever since the Ram-Rahim Welfare Committee came into existence. The committee comprises 21 members headed by a chairman, a post that rotates between a Hindu and a Muslim every year. If the chairman is a Hindu, his deputy is a Muslim, and vice-versa. Members are drawn equally from the two communities.
LUCKNOW: This one’s all set to be an unconventional exhibition. The culture department of Uttar Pradesh government will host a four-day exhibition featuring Urdu “granth” (religious texts) depicting Ram Kathas – the story of Lord Ram as told in Ramayana — from October 14 to 18 this year. A government order was issued through the state’s web portal on July 22. The order says it will focus on “urdu granthon mein ram katha ka chitran” (depiction of Ram Katha in Urdu religious texts). The order, issued by special secretary to the department of Culture, Ram Vishal Mishra, to director, department of culture, Anita Meshram, has also sanctioned Rs 47,000 towards making arrangements for the exhibition.
MUMBAI: Unlike usual Ganpati processions, this Ganpati procession in Mumbai maintained silence until the Friday afternoon Namaaz concluded, while the Muslims reading Namaaz made way for the procession to pass conveniently.
GOTKINDHI: In a classic example of communal harmony, members of the New Ganesh Tarun Mandal in Gotkhindi, a small village in Walwa taluka of Sangli district, have been installing the Ganesh deity inside a mosque in the village for the last 31 years.
The mandal members, both Hindus and Muslims, are also equally proud of the fact that villagers have never objected to the move. In fact, the Muslim villagers offer namaz at the mosque and then follow it up with an aarti for Lord Ganesh. Similarly, Hindus can be seen celebrating Eid with equal zest.
Subhash Thorat, one of the founders of the New Ganesh Tarun Mandal in Gotkhind says, “Our village is small and in 1979, the facilities here were very limited. There was no pandal or tin shed like we see in the Ganesh festivals now. So we installed the idol out in the open. But on one of the festival days, it started raining heavily. We wanted to shift the idol to protect it from the rain. That’s when our Muslim residents came forward and asked us to shift the idol inside the mosque.”
That was 31 years ago and every Ganesh Chaturthi, the idol gets installed in the mosque. “Even after all these years, we don’t set up a separate pandal during the festival. The move has helped strengthen Hindu-Muslim bonds in the village,” says Thorat.