Barely a month after observing 29 rozas during the month of Ramzan, the Tahirs, a Muslim family in Vakola, began a nine-day fast on Wednesday to commemorate Navratri.
For 32 years, the family, headed by Mohammed Tahir, 58, a labour contractor, has been organising a Sarvajanik Devi Pandal near Vakola Pipeline, metres away from their house.
The five-foot idol of the Goddess seated on Nandi, the holy cow, was booked two months ago from a Lalbaug murtikar and carted to the pandal three days before the festival. The pandal is a replica of the Vaishno Devi temple in Kashmir.
Thirty-two years ago, Tahir’s wife, Zubeida, 54, had a dream in which Goddess Durga appeared before her. “What started as a dream has now turned into a family tradition. My daughter, who moved to Bihar after marriage, makes her annual trip to the city only during Navratri,” said Tahir, who along with Zubeida, designs the décor and theme of the pandal every year.
“Our belief in the Goddess was reaffirmed when my husband recovered from a near fatal accident a few days after we had celebrated our first Navratri,” Zubeida said. “Relatives blamed our newfound faith in the Goddess for the accident but it was my belief in her that led to his speedy recovery. Since then, we also started visiting the Vaishno Devi temple every year.”
Their relatives now respect the family’s parallel religious belief. “We give equal preference to Eid and follow all the customs diligently. Priests are called to conduct all the daily pujas during Navratri, we drink only liquids during the nine days of fasting,” said Nilofer Sheikh, 30, Tahir’s eldest daughter, who got married early this year.