Friday, November 23, 2012
Charminar and the Temple
When I was a young boy I used to frequently visit the ‘old city’ of Hyderabad because that’s where my grandparents used to live. On the way we had to take road next to Charminar. I have a vague memory of a very small temple next to Charminar. But, now that temple has grown in size according to the latest pictures. As we speak, old city is rioting once again after a gap of many years. The topic of contention is the growing size of the temple next to Charminar which has now become a prominent place for Hindus. Muslims are objecting to this.
Here are the pictures from THE HINDU where it shows that there was no temple whatsoever sixty years ago. A few days ago, a lady showed an old photograph from her family on a Telugu news channel which doesn’t show the temple next to Charminar.
Charminar in 1957:
Charminar in 1990:
Hindus and Muslims have been fighting over religious places and festivals for a long time now. Even during British there was rioting during festival times. Here is a description of one such episode from 1870s:
…what should be done about the pipal trees on the Moharram route at Pitampura.
This problem occurred again and again. On the tenth day of the month of Moharram, images of the tombs of Hasan and Husain, the grandsons of the Prophet, slain at Karbala, are taken in procession to be buried. They are gaudy towers of tinsel and papier maché. They jolt, swaying on men’s shoulders, through the narrow streets and along the sandy rutted roads between the fields. And then comes a pipal tree, sacred to Hindus. Either the tower or the pipal tree has grown since last year; the image will not pass unless a branch is cut. The Hindus with their six-foot bamboo quarter-staffs wait grimly for the first insult to the sacred tree. The Muslim escort of the tower will not agree to deviation by a yard, still less that the tower should bow its head.
An Indian inspector of police once persuaded the leaders of the village to call out the landless laborers and dig the roadway deeper.
Better still to avoid the confrontation. E H H Hyde arranged between festivals for two elephants to graze near an offending pipal tree; elephants are under the special patronage of Ganesh and no one would grudge them a branch or two from a pipal. And next year, to everyone’s surprise, the image passed easily where before it had stuck.
Looks like the feuds that happen between religions require ingenious solutions, because they are not subject to reason.
Source: The Men Who Ruled India by Philip Mason.