Muslim ‘priest’ at Shiv temple
He was thrown into it, but is doing a good job of it. So much so that the visitors to local Mamaleshwar temple, 66 kms from Srinagar city, address Ghulam Hassan as panditji (temple priest). Tarun Upadhyay reports.india Updated: Jul 09, 2009 01:12 IST
He was thrown into it, but is doing a good job of it. So much so that the visitors to local Mamaleshwar temple, 66 kms from Srinagar city, address Ghulam Hassan as panditji (temple priest).
Only tourists visit this historic temple as there are no Hindu families left in the area. But they don’t go back disappointed. They are offered prasad, get to wear tilak and even get to hear aarti.
Hassan is an employee of Archives, Archaeology and Museum Department, responsible for protected monuments in the state.
“I started offering puja as tourist would ask for parsad. And then I got copy of aarti translated in Urdu to recite it.”
He and one Mohammad Abdullah were appointed watchmen about 10 years back to stand guard at the temple, which is on the list of 28 protected monuments of the state.
The temple, which houses two-foot Shivlingam, was built by King Raja Jai Suria (1128-1055 AD reads a board).
Before militancy erupted, there were about 25 families of Kashmiri Pandits in Ganeshpora, two kms from the temple. At the height of militancy, the temple remained locked. A caretaker was appointed who doubled up as priest when tourism picked up. Also, there were no Hindus left to perform the duties. Hassan stepped in after he was transferred five years ago.
When asked how locals react to his performing idol worship, which is prohibited in Islam, he said, “ I’m doing my duty. And offering puja is part of it.”
Ifthikar Ahmed, who has a shop outside the temple, said, “It’s his job… we must also understand that Kashmir is land of Shiavism and Islam came here only few centuries back.”