24 November, 2020

Another Ayodhya?

It was Babri in 1992, a decade later it's a Sufi shrine in the south

Saibal Das
Another Ayodhya?
A few years ago no one would have predicted that the Guru Dattatreya Baba Budangiri Swamy dargah near Chikmagalur, in Karnataka's tranquil and picturesque Western Ghats, would become the Ayodhya of south India. The shrine of Sufi saint Dada Hayath Meer Qalandar, the Sangh parivar claims, was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Dattatreya (an incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva), his mother Devi Anasuya and four disciples. While the VHP and Bajrang Dal have in recent years been demanding the "liberation" of the dargah, an overt political twist has now been added with the BJP's Karnataka unit joining the chorus for the first time.

Ironically, the dargah has always been a symbol of communal harmony. It has an interesting blend of rituals and festivities, interweaving Hindu and Muslim. Thousands of pilgrims from all communities turn up at the shrine twice a year—once in December during the Datta Jayanti celebrations and again in February-March for Hayath Meer Qalandar's urs. During the rest of the year, a trickle of devotees come to offer prayers and receive...


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