Unlike the perception of Gujarat that there is intense polarisation and communal disharmony; here is a small village where a Hindu temple opened its arms and its gates for Muslim rozedaars to break their fast on Friday evening. Over 100 Muslim residents of Vadgam taluka were invited to offer namaz in Dalvana, a small village of Banaskantha.
Varanda Vir Maharaj Mandir, a 1,200-year-old temple holding great social and religious significance for the people of Dalvana—welcome Muslims with over six types of fruits, dates and sherbat for all Muslims. Away from the hate speech that has engulfed the public discourse in the country this incident became a symbol of peace and harmony.
Pankaj Thakar, 55, the priest at Varanda Vir Maharaj temple said that this was the first time that the temple premise was opened for Muslim brethren to break their fasts. When Vo! contacted Thakar, he said, “Sarpanch and temple trust collectively decided to welcome Muslim guests. Our village has never witnessed a single incident of communal disharmony. Be it Muslim or Hindu festivals we celebrate everything together. In the past there have been instances where we, Hindus, visited Masjid and paid our respect to Allah. We stand in peace and chant gayatri mantra in a mosque and none has any issues. We all respect eachother and stand by eachother.”
There are around 50 Muslim families in the village and they will now, come together to celebrate Hanuman Jayati that falls on April 16. “We are going to organise a feast for the whole village and our Muslim brothers will not just take part in enjoying the meal with us but they are also donating money and becoming equal partners in organising the whole event.” adds Thakar.
According to the 2011 Census, Dalvana has a population of 2,500, mainly comprising Rajput, Patel, Prajapati, Devipujak and Muslim communities. Muslims consist of around 50 families usually engaged in farming and business.
The Hindu priest Thakar is a former principal of the local high school. He said, “I’m educated and I understand that unity is in diversity. What’s the use of my education if I can’t respect and embrace differences?”
Another villager, Wasim Khan, said, “It was an emotional moment for us. We offered Namaz in the garden area of the temple and our Hindu brothers supported us and also celebrated with us.”