A Hindu caretaker for Hazrat Imam Hussein's Imambara in Banda

A Hindu caretaker for Hazrat Imam Hussein's Imambara in Banda

Banda (Uttar Pradesh), Mar.13 : Over two centuries have gone by, and yet, the family of Vasant Rao carries on with a tradition of looking after an Imambara dedicated to Hazrat Imam Hussein in the tiny hamlet of Banda in Uttar Pradesh.

A Hindu family, the Raos describe themselves as being free from rigidly drawn boundaries of religion.

Vasant Rao's ancestor Ramaji Rao, a Maharashtrian Hindu serving in the Maratha Peshwa's army, built the Imambara in 1750. Ramaji was a staunch devotee of the Imam, and the imambara is also referred to as "Ramaji ka Imambara" in his memory. This venue is a unique example of communal amity, where even after 257 years, the tradition of offering prayers the Muslim way still continues.

The original structure of the Imambara has been maintained as it was 250 years ago. The pictures on the walls of the Choti Kothri (small room) and Bari Khothri (big room) are the same as the original design; only fresh colours have been applied to preserve them.

The Rao family lives in the Imambara. One of the rooms houses a Hindu Mandir, which serves as the private prayer room of the family.

The temple entrance has a green curtain, the colour symbolic of Islam, highlighting the spirit of religious harmony that exists within the family. fter offering prayers at his temple, Vasant Rao begins his duties at the Imambara. Be it reading the "Fateha" or making an offering, Rao performs all the Islamic rituals himself.

"This tradition was brought here 250 years back by our ancestor Ramaji Rao. Since then, this ritual has been on here in Banda. My family takes care of all duties, including the monetary matters of the Imamabara. We pray here. We are Hindus and celebrate our festivals our way. For instance, we offer all customary prayers during the Navratras. Similarly, we worship Imam Hussein, but according to Muslim traditions," says Vasant Rao.

Word of the Rao family's devotion to the imambara has spread across the country, and it is no surprise, that the venue is often crowded with people from across the country, and belonging to other faiths.

"Indeed, this family must have been blessed by Hazrat Imam Hussein since they are entitled to perform rituals here. Whether he is a Hindu or of any other origin or faith, it doesn't matter at all," says Javed Ali, a Muslim devotee.

"We have come here from Varanasi. We come here to offer prayers whenever our wishes get fulfilled," added Manikanta a Hindu devotee. his tradition indicates acceptance of differences, including those of religion, tolerance and a synthesis of the Indian way of life.

Courtesy: ANI