Don’t be surprised if you see a Durga Puja devotee at Anandmoyee Ashram also offer prayers at the Kulhari Baba Mazar for better health and prosperity during the days of Navratra.
This campus of the two shrines, at the heart of Capital, is probably one of the few places in India where members of the Mazar administration contributes towards Durga puja by managing the crowd of devotees outside the temple premises.
The Anandmoyee Ashram, famous among the Bengalis in the city, and the Kulhari Baba Mazar, considered a highly sacred place for the Muslims here, are hardly a few feet away from each other. In fact, the two shrines are situated in the same campus with place for only an incense stick shop in between.
The Ashram and the Mazar have been running here for over a century without a single case of communal disharmony reported. In fact, if the Khadims at the Mazar are to be believed, both Hindus and Muslims peacefully offered prayers at their respective shrines even during the 1992 riots.
Mohammad Zahir, a Khadim at the Mazar, said Hindus from across the State offer chaadar (a sacred cloth) at the Mazar and also visit the Mazar for health checkups. On the other hand, the ashram administration claims that devotees, irrespective of their religion, offer prayers to Maa Anandmoyee here.
“Devotees from all communities, including Hindus, offer prayers at the Mazar. In fact, even we do our best to manage the puja arrangements from outside, especially during Navratra,” Zahir said.
The Durga puja celebrated at the ashram is one of the oldest Bengali Durga pujas in the city. One can often see the Khadims of the Mazar and the priests of the ashram converse with each other during the puja evenings when the temple at the ashram gets flooded with devotees and the sacred sound of shankh and dhaki echoes around the ashram premises.
Sanjeev Chatterjee, Secretary, Anandmoyee Ashram said that the ashram has been celebrating Durga puja for at least 100 years. “People from all faiths and communities come to the ashram during puja. The ashram has never discriminated people on any parameter,” said Chatterjee.
The place where the ashram and the Mazar are situated is considered exceptionally sacred. Worshipers say that the place has the blessings of both Anandamoyee Maa and Kulhari Baba, and hence hasn’t witnessed any communal tension as both religions teach peace and brotherhood.
“I don’t think either of the two shrines strictly belongs to any particular community. We all have faith in the Mazar as well as the Ashram,” said Somesh Ray, a devotee at the ashram, who claims to have offered at least three chaadars at the Mazar by now.