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A toast to communal harmony: Bihar Muslims donate land for world’s largest Hindu temple

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Setting a benchmark for communal harmony in India, Muslims in Patna, Bihar, have decided to donate the land for the construction of world’s largest Hindu temple, which will also hold a seating capacity of more than 20,000 devotees.

Acharya Kishore Kunal, Secretary of the Patna-based cash-rich Mahavir Mandir Trust and also a former Indian Police Service officer, said, “Muslims have not only donated land, they have also provided land at a nominal rate for construction of the world’s largest Hindu temple. Without help of Muslims, it would have been difficult realize this dream project.”

“It is usual for Hindus to donate land for temple, but it is unusual for Muslims to donate land for the construction of temple,” he added.

The projected cost for the construction is Rs.500 crore and the work will start from June at Janki Nagar near Kesaria in East Champaran district, about 150 km from Patna.

Around 35 Muslim families were having their land in the middle of the proposed area for the construction. There were a few families who had land along the main road that connects to the project site, but still they offered their land for the successful completion of the pious cause.

“Some Muslims donated lands and others helped and supported us to purchase their land for the temple. If Muslims had not come forward, the temple project was sure to have got delayed,” Acharya Kunal informed.

Mahavir Mandir Trust has obtained 200 acres of land out of which both the Hindu community and the Muslim community donated about 50 acres, and the rest of the land has been purchased.

Prior to this remarkable example of communal brotherhood, Muslims had also helped in the construction of a Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Durga in Gaya district, another temple was dedicated to God Shiva in Begusarai district and in Sitamarhi district.

The construction of the temple will be overtaken by Valecha Construction Company. The temple will be 2,500 feet long, 1,296 feet wide and 379 feet high.

Gurgaon based Radheyshyam Sharma, Director of Ingenious Studio Pvt. Ltd., who is looking after the temple’s architectural aspects, said the Virat Ramayan Mandir will be taller than the world famous 12th century Angkor Wat Temple complex in Cambodia, which is 215 feet high. According to him, “No temple in the world has such a huge seating capacity as this one will have.”

He said, “The complex will comprise 18 temples with high spires and its Shiv temple would have the largest Shiva linga in the world. The temple will also have the idols of Ram, Sita, Luv and Kush.”

Sharma added that the temple was to be named “Virat Angkor Wat Ram Mandir,” however, following the objections raised by people of Cambodia, name of the temple was changed.

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Story Of Pakistani Immigrant Who Came To U.S. Helps Feed The Homeless

“I have a deep interest in social justice, Catholic social teaching … and so to be part of something bigger than myself, my son and I chose to come to lunch here today to support and be a small part of a great thing."

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Sakina Halal Grill serves a hot luncheon buffet to paying as well as non-paying guests. (J.Taboh) VOA

When Pakistani immigrant Kazi Mannan came to the U.S. in 1996 as an impoverished young adult, he could only dream about success. He worked long hours in a series of tough jobs, saved money and learned everything he could about working and living in America.

His hard work paid off. After more than 20 years, he’s now a successful entrepreneur and owner of a popular Pakistani-Indian restaurant just a few blocks from the White House.

But what’s most remarkable about his story is what he’s doing in his restaurant every day.

Kazi Mannan speaks with two of his regular homeless guests at his restaurant, which welcomes paying and non-paying customers. (J. Taboh/VOA)
Kazi Mannan speaks with two of his regular homeless guests at his restaurant, which welcomes paying and non-paying customers. (J. Taboh) . VOA

Mannan offers free meals to the homeless and anyone else in need.

Paying it forward

He says it’s his way of heeding the principles of his Muslim faith.

“I know God is happy with me, what I do, because I do it with my pure heart, with my pure intention, to uplift others without seeking any reward, any recognition,” he says. “I don’t need any awards, I don’t need any money. I just want to please Him.”

Mannan helps the needy he says, because growing up poor in Pakistan, he knows what it’s like to be hungry.

“I have nine siblings and [we didn’t have] much to eat … when you are poor and you [don’t] have things that other people have, when you get it, you want to appreciate, you want to share with others,” he said.

His desire to share deepened as he worked as a limousine driver in the nation’s capital. He saw homeless people on the street, day and night, in all kinds of weather — looking for food in trash cans.

The experience had an impact.

“I don’t want to see another human being going through the poverty that I went through. I don’t want to see another human being going through the hunger that I went through. I want them to have that feeling that they were being accepted, so they can come and sit here and eat with respect,” he says.

Just like family

His message is simple. Come to Sakina Halal Grill, which is named after his late mother, ask for food, use the restroom, and sit for as long as you want.

“We will love you and respect you the same way we respect a paying guest. We will treat you like family,” he said.

Members of the homeless community are welcome at Sakina Halal Grill restaurant anytime for a free meal. (J. Taboh/VOA)
Members of the homeless community are welcome at Sakina Halal Grill restaurant anytime for a free meal. (J. Taboh). VOA

Marchellor Lesueur, who is homeless, has been coming to the restaurant every day for the past eight months.

“I think that he’s a saint. He’s a beautiful man,” he says about Mannan. “My stomach was growling, I was looking for a blessing, then he popped up, gave me a card and invited me to a restaurant for lunch. And I was so overwhelmed and happy I couldn’t wait to get here, and ever since then I’ve been coming.”

Hegehiah Griakley is also a regular. He was finishing up a generous portion of rice and chicken, which he described as two meals in one.

“This is more than lunch,” he said. “They give you enough to feed you for the rest of the day I think. The food is great, the people are nice. I wouldn’t mind working here!”

Griakley says he once asked Mannan what he could give him in return for the free food. “Because most people expect you to give back.”

“But he said ‘no, no, no, no, no!’ He just wanted me to have a good meal,” he recalls. “I couldn’t believe that. It was so nice. I loved it.”

Compassionate immigrant

Mannan estimates that he’s provided more than 80,000 free meals since the restaurant opened in 2013.

And when he’s not feeding the needy in his restaurant, Mannan delivers meals to local shelters and churches, and organizes food and clothing drives at nearby parks.

Kazi Mannan distributes food to the needy at a local food and coat drive -- one of many he organizes every year. (K.Mannan)
Kazi Mannan distributes food to the needy at a local food and coat drive — one of many he organizes every year. (K.Mannan). VOA

“Some people tell me ‘homeless people are using drugs and you’re feeding them; that’s bad.’” To which he responds, “For you, it’s bad, for me, it’s joy. … I see a person who’s fallen to the ground. Whatever problem they went through to become homeless, it’s not my job to judge — my job is to give them respect and love.”

His paying customers are still his main business. Many of them contribute towards the free meals… and support his cause.

First time customer Geralyn Nathe-Evans was visiting from Minnesota when she read about Mannan’s mission in an article.

“I have a deep interest in social justice, Catholic social teaching … and so to be part of something bigger than myself, my son and I chose to come to lunch here today to support and be a small part of a great thing,” she said.

Mannan uses food as a way to help his fellow man, in practice of his faith. He urges others to do the same with their talents.

“If you’re a medical doctor, can you love him through your practice? If you are a lawyer, can you love him through your practice? Be kind and be compassionate to your client?” he asks.

In doing so, he believes “we will all prosper and flourish” as a society.

Also Read: Apple Watch Can Detect And Notify Users Irregular Heart Rhythms

Meantime, he says he will continue to nourish both body and soul of all who walk through the door of his restaurant.

“Just uplifting others is a joy for me. It doesn’t matter [what] color, religion you belong to. We are all human. I am focusing on humanity. I’m bringing humanity together and this is my mission.” (VOA)