Bhajans sound the iftar namaz at this Ramzan celebration of Muslim-Hindu unity in Pune
It’s Ramzan and all the dargahs and mosques in the city are busy preparing for namaz followed by iftar every evening. It’s different at the Shadul baba dargah in Yerawada. Here, an unusual combination of namaz and chants of Tukaram and Vithal, fill the air.
Akhil Pir Mohd Mujawar, the religious head of the dargah, says, “People from all communities come and pray at this dargah. In fact, we have been living together with the warkaris for hundreds of years in Sangamwadi. So when Sachin Nikam, who heads the warkari group from Sangamwadi, offered to sing at the dargah, we agreed.”
Sachin Nikam said, “For eons we have been living together. After Padwa, every year, we go to different temples to sing bhajans and since we also pray at this dargah, we thought of performing here. So the request was stated.”
Though there is enough bonhomie between the members of the dargah and warkaris, it was not an easy play.
Ikram Khan, patron of Shadul Baba Dargah, says, “There were hardliners from both the communities who were against the idea. We managed to convince them that this was a step in the right direction.” With Khan’s backing it became possible for the two communities to come together on the 21st day of Ramzan (June 6), which holds a special significance for the Muslim community.
“The 21st Ramzan is the day of special prayers as we celebrate the Uroos of Shadul baba. Every year on this day we break our fast with a special namaz and open our gates and our hearts to people from all communities to our iftar (when the fast is broken). Over 400 people from the surrounding areas come here to celebrate the Uroos,” added Mujawar.
Nikam, whose 200 warkaris sang at the dargah, said, “I think this is the first time bhajans are being sung at a dargah. I hope people will see this and learn to live in harmony as we have been doing for generations.”
“Shadul baba taught us that we should not discriminate between people and religion. He wanted us to live as one. The path to the Almighty may be different, but the goal is one, to be united with Him (God). So, it doesn’t matter if you sing a bhajan or say a namaz. The goal is one after all,” added Mujawar.
After the bhajans, Mujawar led the namaz before all sat together for iftar.
Khan was busy with the preparation of the food and sherbet. The warkaris got a flower ‘chadar’ and a pagdi to offer to Shadul Baba and fruits and dates for their Muslim brethren to break their fast with. Together they sat and shared a meal prepared by volunteers. One could see many warkaris wearing skull caps and Muslims wearing topis. Sharing of bhajans and namaz seem to be the way to erode religious differences.
“Perhaps this will start a trend. We have already been invited to perform at a gurudwara in Khadki and I plan to invite Mujawar bhai (brother) to our temple to say their namaz. After all the language you use does not matter, what matters is you seek Him,” added Nikam.