The Hindu – Transcending religious boundaries

Muslim auto drivers celebrate temple festival with their Hindu counterparts

Sunitha Sekar

Chennai-Tamil Nadu, 29 March 2017. Say hello to a group of Muslim auto drivers in Thiruvanmiyur who are gearing up to celebrate the Marundeeswarar temple festival in April with their Hindu counterparts.

Tucked away from the busy East Coast Road lies the Thiruvanmiyur Clock Tower Auto Stand with 14 members who have been celebrating the festival by giving Annadhanam for over a decade now.

Four of the 14 are Muslims who joined the stand at various points in time say they take up every responsibility given to them and feel proud to be a part of it. When N. Narayanan mooted the idea of offering food to all devotees during the festival 10 years ago, everyone in the stand readily agreed.

What’s even more special is, the four, M Basha, H Mustafa, M Abdul Kadhar and K Dastagir, were eager to participate without an iota of hesitation.

M Abdul Kadhar, an auto driver, says, “It’s a privilege for us to participate with our friends in this festival.

It may sound cliched but God is one for us. Even they participate in our festivals. We will continue to do this in the coming years too.”

They used to offer Sambhar rice, curd rice and Sakkarai pongal. “We will do it on April 12 this year when Theppam Thiruvizha (float festival). We close the stand and pitch in as much as we can. It costs us around Rs 10,000 to do it but it doesn’t matter. This is our humble contribution,” says Mr. Narayanan.

Their participation does not stop here, it extends to Sabarimala season too. During the irumudi kattu function at Marundeewarar temple, the four used to sit along with the rest, eat with them and give them a send off, says Saravanant, another driver.

H Mustafa who has been at the stand since 2004, says, “What’s heartening is our immediate families too have been extremely supportive and haven’t raised any objections.”


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