24 November, 2020

The Sins Of Somnath, Reversed

A Muslim peon had to pauperise himself to enrich a Hindu heritage in West Midnapore

The Sins Of Somnath, Reversed
Arich slice of Bengal’s heritage would have been lost forever had it not been for a village high school peon in West Midnapore district, nearly 200 km west of Calcutta. For Mohammed Yeasin Pathan, saving the 34-odd ancient Hindu temples at Pathra, a village 2 km away from his native Hatiholka, has been a lifelong passion. He has not only restored many of these temples to their former glory, but has also forged a concrete bond between the Hindus and Muslims of the poverty-ridden, backward area. "As a child, I used to visit Pathra very often and was mystified by the temples and the remains of the zamindar’s mansion. As I grew up, I realised that the structures were a part of our heritage and needed to be preserved. They were in bad shape. More than a century of neglect had taken its toll. The Kansabati river had swallowed a few temples and the remaining were being plundered for bricks by the locals," recalls the 52-year-old Pathan.

Pathan was 17 when he embarked on his ‘save the temples’ mission in 1971. Being a Muslim, he was greeted with sceptics and opponents within...



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