Patna, India: Villagers in a Bihar hamlet wake up every morning to the sounds of bells coming from a local temple.
They have been doing this for several decades — the bell chimes and they run out of their beds to prepare for the day.
This is their daily routine. However, what is unusual here is that the bell hanging in the local Hindu temple is rung by a Muslim villager who serves as the priest here.
Meet Sadique Miyan, 85, who has been serving as the priest at a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity
Ram's family lives at Sohsa village in central Bihar’s Arwal district, some 80km from Patna. His is a lesson for those hankering to spread hate in the name of religion.
Love and service
“All religions are same," Miyan said. "They all talk about love and service to humanity."
At the far-end of his life, the octogenarian priest has only one wish: “I want my mortal remains to be flown away in the Ganges,” he says.
The Muslim priest, who studied until intermediate and speaks Hindi, Urdu and Arabic with equal ease, turned towards the Hindu religion while he studied in Class 3.
“I have been offering prayers at the temple since 1949 and faced no problems from anywhere,” he said.
“Religion must not be thrust upon anyone; let the people choose his own religion,” she said.
But he is not alone in the mission to create a new society based on communal brotherhood.
Like him, Muslim villagers in Bihar have set a new example of communal harmony by helping in the renovation of an old Hindu temple dedicated to another Hindu deity, Hanuman.
Hindu villagers from Bakhari village in central Bihar’s Begusarai district were quite worried after an old temple turned decrepit.
Also, the temple did not have sufficient space: during major religious events, devotees found the area wanting.
Recently, the local villagers planned to renovate the temple, but the lack of space and financial crunch stared them in the face.
When the Muslim villagers came to know about it, they came forward and offered a helping hand — some donated land for the temple expansion while others offered financial help.
The result: the Hindu temple got a new look.