Shrine that plays postman to god

December 27th, 2009 - 2:12 pm ICT by IANS  

By Byomakesh Biswal
Kaipadar (Orissa), Dec 27 (IANS) God’s divine intervention can be sought in many ways — you can pray silently, speak aloud or sing. Or you can drop a letter at a shrine in Orissa’s Khurda district where devotees believe that god is a reader.

The dome-shaped shrine at Kaipadar village, just 50 km from the state capital, is also a symbol of unity between Muslims and Hindus and has a crescent and a chakra at the top.

“Though the origin of the tradition is not known, it is believed that if you make a wish through letters, your wishes will be fulfilled. Whatever wishes you have, you can write it down and put it on the wall of the shrine,” said Sardoon Nishan, a devotee.

Every day, thousands of devotees offer prayers at the 17th century Bokhari Baba shrine, also called the Satya Pira shrine, which is visited by both Hindus and Muslims.

According to local legend, Hazrat Syed Jallaludin Bokhari, a Muslim saint in the 17th century, was on his way to Puri when he met a Hindu saint there. They exchanged religious discourses and the place began to attract visitors from nearby places.

Later the king of Puri, Gajapati Ramachandra Dev, visited the place and provided land for the construction of an ashram. The shrine was built in phases in the 19th and 20th century.

Another unique feature of the shrine here is while the priest is a Muslim, the holy offering - ‘bhog’ made of jaggery, ’shirini bhog’ made of milk, ghee and banana and floral offerings - are prepared by Hindus.

“Our family has been providing flowers to the shrine for generations. And now I am continuing the family tradition,” said Dhandu Mohapatra.

A symbol of communal harmony, devotees from different religions visit the shrine every day. While Muslims offer chaddar on an ant-hill inside the sanctum sanctorum, Hindus offer flowers.

“Devotees from different religions come here. They make it a point to write their wishes on a piece of paper. Then they put it on the wall. Once their wishes are fulfilled, they come again to offer chaddar and flowers to Bokhari Baba,” said Suttar Khan, the priest of the shrine.

And those devotees who are unable to come here can send their letters though post. The letters sent to the shrine’s address are also put on the wall by the temple priest. It is believed that if the wish of the devotee comes true then the letter falls off the wall by itself.

“One can come and write the letter on his own. Those devotees who can’t come here can write their wishes and problems in a letter and post it and we ensure that the letters are put on the temple wall,” Khan added.

According to the shrine priest, hundreds of letters arrive each day.

(Byomakesh Biswal can be contacted at byomakesh.b@ians.in)

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