Sunday, August 12, 2007

Shiva's Muslim Devotees Carry Kanwars

Indore, Aug 12 :

As lakhs of Kanwarias, the Lord Shiva devotees, offered the holy water of River Ganges at Shiva temples in their hometowns in north India, a group of Muslims in Madhya Pradesh also offered the holy water at the Ujjain Mahakaleshwar Temple.

The group comprising 30 Muslims covered a distance of 80 kilometres from Sirpur to the Ujjain Mahakaleshwar Temple, on foot. They were accompanied by 1,200 other Hindu devotees carrying "Kanwars" or, the pots balancing on a bamboo pole to the temple.

Clad in saffron dresses, just like other Hindu brethrens, these devotees known as "Kanwarias" or, the carriers of "Kanwars", kept singing hymns and shouting "Bol Bum" in the praise of Lord Shiva.

Everyone stayed on a vegetarian diet and followed strict religious guidelines through out their pilgrimage.

Abdul Ismail Chishti, a Muslim devotee, said: "This Kanwar pilgrimage has been going out of this city for the last ten years. There are about 30 to 35 Muslims who participate in this annual pilgrimage. Nobody can differentiate (between the Hindus and the Muslims) since everyone participates with equal religious fervour. All of them greet the pilgrimage with brotherhood and peace,"

The gesture of Muslim devotees of Lord Shiva on Saturday fascinated a lot of attention of other pilgrims in the State.

Hindus in the city say the pilgrimage proved a good occasion to strengthen communal harmony here. Bholu Agnihotri, the organiser of a camp set up for the Kanwarias' stopover, said: "People from all religions participate in this pilgrimage in some way or the other. Whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikhs or Christians- they all serve with equal fervour."

Many Muslims in other parts of the country are known for making "Kanwars" for the Shiva devotees who carry them on shoulders, travelling long stretches to offer holy water at Shiva temples during the auspicious Monsoon month as per Hindu calendar. About eight lakh Kanwarias take on the pilgrimage during Shravan month.


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