At a time when India has been facing attempts to divide people in the name of religion, the worship in Saadhu Thaan, a shrine in an interior tea garden of Dibrugarh in the Indian state of Assam, demonstrates a beauty of unity and interfaith harmony. While Hindus worship in the east facing side, Muslims offer their namaaz in the west facing side, all under one roof.
Located in the Deroibam Tea Estate that comes under the Dibrugarh district and is attached to a small village named 70 No. Kenya Pather, the shrine actually symbolises a Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva and Ajan Pir confluence, where people of both Hindu and Muslim communities have been worshipping for about two centuries.
An inscription on one of the walls at the shrine reveals that its foundation was laid on March 7 in 1823. Much before the date, it had been a place where a saadhu (sage) would dwell. It is said that one day, all of a sudden, he disappeared. It is believed to be a sacred place with divine power. People of the region and workers of the tea garden assert that it has always been a holy place that people visit in their hour of need.
Jalaluddin Ahmed, a pioneer indigenous tea planter of Assam, had laid the foundation there as ‘Fakir Baba Aadam Meer Rh Rehlat’ after he bought the entire plot of land from the British and planted tea there in 1888. Though there isn’t any physical evidence left to prove the Sadhu’s existence, except the mud-baked shape of a human lying on the ground, the people of this locality have had this belief for ages now.
In keeping with this tradition, people from all over the state visit this holy place to offer their prayers. As people of the Hindu community often visit there to light earthen lamps and incense sticks, so people of the Islamic faith come and offer their namaaz. Mr Jatin Bora, a senior employee at the same tea estate, said that there have been many instances in the past where the owner, who is of Islamic faith, and his other employees, who were from multiple faiths, including Hindus and Christians, have gathered together on different occasions to offer prayers. Such a place of worship is quite rare and to truly understand and appreciate the spiritual pull of this place, one needs to be a part of the prayers there.
Thus, when communal tensions rear their ugly heads in an attempt to divide the people of India in the name of religion, such places prove that peace, brotherhood and harmony can easily prevail amongst people of different faiths. Thus, over the years, this remote place in Assam has proved to be a place of contentment and unity for Hindus and Muslims of the locality.
Being in a remote area, this place may not have global exposure. However, it sets an exemplary symbol of unity and a harmonious co-existence. Thus, although, Assam, no doubt is a place where people of both communities visit temples and mosques, be it the famous Poa Mecca in Hajo or Haigrib Madhab Mandir in Kamrup, this small place in Dibrugarh is undoubtedly a place of worship like no other.
I feel blessed and proud to belong to the same locality as it.