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Rajasthan’s shrine to syncretism

March of faith A pilgrim walking to the Ramdeoji temple near Pokhran to attend the fair on September 8. Photo: Special Arrangement  

At a time when India is facing attempts to divide people in the name of religion, the worship of Baba Ramdeoji, a folk deity of Rajasthan, demonstrates the beauty of unity. If Hindus worship him as Kalki, the last incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Muslims venerate him as Rama Shah Peer.

Legend has it that five peers from Mecca came to test the spiritual powers of Ramdeoji, a 14th century ruler of Pokhran, and after being convinced of his strengths, they paid their respects to him. They were so impressed by Ramdeoji’s personality that they decided to stay with him forever. His name is associated with several legends, and the number of the devout visiting the temple dedicated to him at Ramdevra, 10 km from Pokhran, speaks a lot about common people’s faith in his blessings.

Even today, the samadhi of those five peers is situated by the samadhi of Ramdeoji at Ramdevra. The saint has a strong following in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh too. The Ramapir temple of Tando Allahyar in Sindh of Pakistan is another example of Ramdeoji’s popularity. This temple is the third largest place of pilgrimage for Hindus in modern Sindh. It speaks about the cultural bonding between two nations whose politicians generally look like walking on hot bricks on bilateral issues.

Ramdeoji devoted his life to the welfare of the downtrodden sections of society. It is said that once King Ajmal of Pokhran, the town now widely known for its association with India’s nuclear explosions, went to Dwaraka, the mythological capital of Lord Krishna, and expressed his wish to have a child like him.

The king was the descendent of the famous Anangpal Tomar of Delhi. A few months later, Ramdeoji was born to his queen Mainaldevi. The basis of several legends associated with Ramdeoji may be a matter of discussion for intellectuals, but “faith is the bird which sings when the dawn is still dark”.

Ramdeoji took samadhi at the age of 33 in AD 1459. King Ganga Singh of Bikaner constructed the temple at Ramdevra in 1931.

Every year, a big fair is organised at Ramdevra on the 10th lunar day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhadrapad. This year, the fair was held on September 8.

Millions of people from different parts of the country visit this tiny town on the occasion to pay their homage to the person who devoted his life to the cause of the common man.

Even several days prior to the fair, groups of people from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh walk to the shrine with a traditional flag in their hands.

Though multitudes of people arrive by vehicles too, a trudge to the shrine is considered auspicious and hundreds of people perform the ritual. Throughout the way, night shelters, baths, food and first aid are provided for the pilgrims. The pilgrims are called Jatroos and providing free help to them is considered auspicious. The fair at Ramdevra runs smoothly owing to the self-discipline of thousands of devotees.

atulkanak@yahoo.com

Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 1:48:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/rajasthans-shrine-to-syncretism/article29418437.ece

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