At a time when the country is grappling with communal conflicts, a Muslim man in north Guwahati is spreading the message of peace and harmony with his infallible service to a centuries-old shrine of Lord Shiva, across the mighty Brahmaputra river.
For generations, members of Motibar Rahman’s family here have been looking after the upkeep of the temple in Rangmahal area of the city. Rahman, now in his mid-70s, makes it a point to sweep the floors of the shrine every morning, light candles and incense sticks, before paying obeisance to his ‘nana’ [grandfather], as he fondly calls the Lord.
“People from the Hindu community come here to offer prayers, sing naam-kirtan [local religious songs]. Many Muslims, too, visit the temple. Nana [Lord Shiva] likes it very much,” he said.
“He also wants his surrounding to be clean. Without His permission, nothing can be taken from here. Even a branch of a tree cannot be taken without His permission,” Rahman, dressed in apristine white long kurta, lungi and topi, said.
People in this land of Sankardeb and Azan Fakir believe in peace and brotherhood, he insisted.
Assam is often referred to “Sankar-Ajan’or Dexh (land)” after Assamese polymath of the 15th-16th century Sankardeb, and Sufi preacher from Baghdad Azan Fakir, as both had devoted their entire lives uniting the people of the Brahmaputra valley.
Explaining the significance behind the family tradition, the septuagenarian said, “My ancestor Borhansa had a dream of Lord Shiva, who told him that he wanted to live here. The Lord had also bestowed on us the responsibility to look after his place of stay.”
Rahman is confident that his sons, too, will take forward this tradition, which started in the family around 500 years ago.
“When I had gone to Mecca on Haj in 2006, my sons took care of the place, though not as well as I do. They tried their best” he added.