//Hindus manage Vadodara dargah

Hindus manage Vadodara dargah

Ravish Kumar, Saturday, May 6, 2006 (Vadodara):

As the city of Vadodara limps back to normalcy, curfew has been relaxed in parts of the city and the army is being withdrawn.

What sparked off the violence was the demolition of a 200-year-old dargah, but not everything in this city is about Hindu versus Muslim.

In the heart of Vadodara, a chaste Hindu is devoted to a Muslim saint. There has been a 38-year-old strong bond between Bhagwan Das Haribhai Patel and the dargah of Hazrat Pir Qasam Baba.

When the city was racked by violence after a dargah was demolished, it was almost a personal loss for the 77-year-old Haribhai.

"I am heart broken. This should not have happened. They can't demolish a medieval structure. They can demolish whatever has been built recently," said Haribhai.

Hindu devotees

Patel is not the exception at Kasim Dulha's dargah, but rather the rule. For 250 years, this dargah has always had a Hindu caretaker and even now 95 per cent of the devotees here are Hindus.

"Here everyone is a Hindu. Both Hindus and Muslims come here to pray," said Balkrishna, a devotee.

"There was a time when Hindus and Muslims used to work together," said Shyaam Bhai, another devotee.

In the old city, thousands of Hindus and Muslims gather together everyday at these dargahs looking for guidance and asking the pirs for blessings.

It's this image that they hope will be strong enough to overcome the communal divide. As Bhagwan Das loves to say Ram or Rahim, what's the difference?