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The Hindu

Article Summary   by:anil ekbote    
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Muslim priest in a Hindu temple is surely a happy example of the religious tolerance of secular Indians of various faiths. In a Hindu Durga temple atop a hillock in Payakraopeta in Vishakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh state of India a priest chants prayers in Sanskrit, meticulously carries out temple rituals and helps devotees. His head is tonsured and he wears a dhoti. But he is a Muslim by birth and his name is Sheikh Mira Sahib.How did this Muslim happen to be a priest in a Hindu temple? Twenty-five years ago he used to herd buffalos. When a few archeologists camped there looking for ancient relics this shepherd helped them in weeding the path that climbed the hillock. Once, when clearing weeds, his tool struck something hard. It was an idol of Hindu Goddess Durga. Sheikh Mira Sahib dumped this newfound idol aside and forgot about it. But that night Goddess Durga appeared in his dream and asked him to perform her puja everyday. As a Muslim should he do this? After a few days he decided that he should. He retrieved the idol, installed it on the very spot where he had found it and began performing puja. Worshipers began to trickle in. Mira Sahib picked up some Sanskrit mantras from them. Later, a Brahmin scholar Subramanya Sastry taught him to perform puja in a proper way. Today, the villagers have accepted him. They say that he has brought the Goddess to them. So he has a right to worship her even if he is a Muslim. Sheikh Mira Saheb’s son disapproves of his father’s behaviour. But his wife, emboldened by her husband’s new way of living, began attending a local church. However, the husband and wife have not given up their Muslim religion. They follow it faithfully
Published: February 03, 2007   
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