IN THIS MILITANCY stricken valley, where some ‘outsiders’ are leaving no stone unturned to widen the divide between Muslims and Hindus, a Muslim has been looking after a Shiva temple for the last 17 years. By uttering verses from the Quran and shlokas from the Gita with same fluency and devotion everyday, he presents a unique example of secularism and communal harmony in
Ghulam Mohammad Shiekh is the priest of the 92-year old Shiva temple at Gulmarg. The temple houses a Shiv Lingam and idol of Goddess Parvati. Everyday Shiekh performs all the rituals of a pujari including performing aarti and distributing prasad among devotees, who throng this ancient temple in big numbers, especially in summers when the place comes alive.
For him there is no difference between ‘Allah’ and ‘Bhagwan’. Being a Muslim he never forgets to perform namaz daily.
How a Muslim became the ‘pujari’ of a temple?
Shiekh’s father Gulam Rasool Shiekh was the Chowkidar of the temple and he rendered his services for about 40 years. Due to militancy when Kashmiri Pandits fled
Kashmir, the temple was left abandoned; Shiekh started performing the duties of a pujari. From that point of time he has been looking after all the affairs related to the famous temple.
Shiekh had to pay the price for becoming the priest of temple. It was not an easy task for him. He was targeted by terrorists many a times in past, who threatened him to leave the job of priest. He was once kidnapped by the ultras, but it was his sheer good luck that he was released later on by them.
Credits for the story: VIVEK SURI