Varanasi’s Hindu rozedaar
For eleven months a year, this railway gateman, a Hanuman devotee, ensures there is no accident at a railway crossing in Varanasi’s Kazzakpura locality. Anuraag Singh reports.india Updated: Aug 28, 2009 00:36 IST
For eleven months a year, this railway gateman, a Hanuman devotee, ensures there is no accident at a railway crossing in Varanasi’s Kazzakpura locality.
In the twelfth month, the 53-year-old father of six, and his eldest daughter, turns into an embodiment of the pluralistic culture that India is proud of.
Keeping a roza (fast) during Ramzan has been Arjun Lal’s way of thanking the almighty for more than two decades now.
The tradition began 24 years ago when Lal, childless for over a decade, sighted the moon on the last day of the month of Ramzan. He vowed to go in for traditional fasting from the next year if he became a father.
Next year, Lal and his wife Savitri were blessed with a daughter they named Sochani.
“Since then, our family has grown to five more children, three daughters (including Sochani) and three sons. It is my sacred duty to maintain the tradition of fasting. Only death will prevent me from this,” Lal told HT on Monday.
Lal has never let his work responsibilities come in the way of fulfilling his religious duty.
Lal and Sochani devoutly carry out every ritual that Muslims follow, including waking up before dawn.
Even as many Muslims in this temple city begin fasting after announcements on loudspeakers, the father-daughter duo set an alarm for 3 am every day, just like they would do during a Hindu vrat (fast).
Sochani has continued the tradition even after marriage.
“It’s a coincidence that I am with my parents this Ramzaan. From next year, I will observe the fast at my in-laws’ house.”