Lucknow, Jun 11: There was no usual chanting of mantras or lighting of earthen lamps at the 'Aarti sthal' of the renowned Mankameshwar temple on the banks of river Gomti here as hundreds of Muslims gathered wearing skull caps were invited to attend a Roza-iftar.
In a probable first, the temple in the state capital hosted a roza-iftar with chief priest Mahant Devya Giri playing chief host. Setting an example of harmony, brotherhood and peace, the event witnessed over 500 Muslim guests including the Imam of the famous Teeley Wali Masjid, Maulana Fazlul Mannan Rahmani, Maulana Sufiyan Nizami, spokesperson of Darul Uloom Farangi Mahali, Nawab Jafar Mir Abdullah and others.
"It's our tradition that both Hindus and Muslims celebrate each other's festivals. This pious month of Ramzan, we are clebrating nine 'Bada Mangal' (nine Tuesdays to worship Lord Hanuman). Our Muslim friends also actively hold 'Bhandaras' (community feast) at many places," Mahant Giri told PTI.
By organising iftar for our friends, we tried to propagate the message of brotherhood and communal harmony, she said. Serving those who have observed fast from dawn to dusk is the best way to worship God, said Giri, the first woman priest of the time believed to be hundreds of years old.
Mankameshwar temple, in Lucknow's Daliganj area, houses one of the four 'Shivlingas' where an inconsolable Laxman is said to have stopped to pray on his way back to Ayodhya, having left Sita in the forest, according to a tale related to the epic Ramayana.
The iftar event was "well-planned" with arrangements of performing namaz, which was led by Maulana Fazlul Mannan Rahmani followed by the iftar served by only the temple staff with vermilion on their forehead and wearing saffron attire.
Separate arrangements were made for Muslim men and women. Those attending the iftar were all praise for the temple administration and advocated for more such events which give a message of peace and harmony.
"We all are the same, but due to politics, the communal atmosphere is vitiated and there is a visible divide appearing between various communities. Such events promote brotherhood and should be held by both communities," Mohammad Irfan, who attended the iftar said.
Similar views were expressed by Asif Ali, who felt the event was a "welcome" step. "I had organised 'bhandara' on 'Bada mangal' last Tuesday. More such events will help us mingle socially and thwart any divisive agenda of some politicians," he said.