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An Ancient Hindu Temple is home to the Muslim Population in Rajouri Village, Kashmir

The six to eight hundred years old ancient Shiv temple is looked after by the cent per cent Muslim community at Rechva

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A temple in Kashmir. (Representation Image). Image source: pathikaa.wordpress.com
  • Muslims of Rajouri district in Kashmir have set an example of tolerance by taking care of an ancient temple in the Rechva village
  •  The six to eight hundred year old ancient Shiv temple is looked after by the cent per cent Muslim community at Rechva
  •  “Temple is a house of God and we have full respect for it. It’s our responsibility to ensure its safety”, the local residents said

At a time when societal upheavals and great communal disturbance fill the air, Muslims of Rajouri district in Kashmir have set an example of tolerance by taking care of an ancient temple in the Rechva village of the area.

Although the local Hindu population migrated decades back, the ancient Shiv temple is looked after by the cent per cent Muslim community at Rechva. The temple is carefully maintained and children are not allowed to play in the complex to prevent any structural damage to it. Some believe the structure to be about six to eight hundred years old, but the exact number is not known, said the greaterkashmir.com reports.

“Almost every day we clean its premises and have also asked our children not to play in the temple compound. We also ensure than no animals from the village is grazed near the temple premises as it can damage its structure”, an elderly resident said.

The grand architecture of the Shiv temple suggests it is the work of experts, with its walls and doors carrying engravings of distinct sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses. The temple sits atop a ridge in the middle of Rechva village, with its roofs beautified by detailed stonework. Four pillars stand in the four directions of the monument.

Engravings on an ancient temple wall Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Engravings on an ancient temple wall. (representation Image) Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

According greaterkashmir.com, the temple has been protected during tensions and turmoil as the entire complex stands intact as it was years back. During festivals like Shiv Ratri, many Hindus visit the temple and perform pooja.

 “Temple is a house of God and we have full respect for it. It’s our responsibility to ensure its safety”, the local residents said.

An official posted in the area said that the local Muslims “never allowed anyone to damage its property.”

On inquiring about rising violence in the region, a local resident said, “We don’t know about all that, we have kept the temple protected and we will keep doing so till our last breath.”

Although Hindus come to the temple to celebrate certain festivals, the locals have urged the Central and State governments to put the ancient temple on the tourist map so that “devotees will come and offer Pooja. It will also ensure better safeguard of the temple.”

-prepared by Maariyah Siddique, an intern at Newsgram. Twitter: @MaariyahSid

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    So pleasing to hear things like this. Change has been taking place, just like how the Hindus celebrated Kumbh mela in kashmir, is exactaly how these kashmiri muslims take care of this temple as their own.

  • Aparna Gupta

    Truely this is an example of Hindu Muslim harmony in Kashmir irrespective of communal violence which had taken place in Kashmir for years.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    So pleasing to hear things like this. Change has been taking place, just like how the Hindus celebrated Kumbh mela in kashmir, is exactaly how these kashmiri muslims take care of this temple as their own.

  • Aparna Gupta

    Truely this is an example of Hindu Muslim harmony in Kashmir irrespective of communal violence which had taken place in Kashmir for years.

Next Story

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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Food
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)