46 and still going, devotees chant their way into Guinness book!

Last Updated 26 December 2010, 14:08 IST

They have been doing it while keeping a tradition alive -- that of continuous invocation to Lord Ram at the Bal Hanuman Temple in this port town of Gujarat -- a feat that has found a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

"The temple was built by Prem Bhikuji Maharaj in 1961. Three years later, he started this ritual of continuous chanting of Ram dhun along with his followers," says Jaisukhbhai Gusani, the trustee of the temple.

Since then and even after the demise of Prem Bhikuji, chants of 'Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram' rent the air.

Gusani says a schedule is made daily which is strictly adhered to.

"The shift-wise chanting schedule is prepared daily in advance and a list of names showing the time at which people are to take part is displayed on a board outside the temple," Gusani told PTI.

"The singers are not professional, they are devotees who volunteer themselves for the cause. Women and children also take part in the chanting," he says.

A separate board in the temple shows the names of those chanters who have pledged to take the legacy forward.

In recognition to the never-ending efforts of the chanters, the Guinness Book of Records awarded certificates to the temple twice in 1984 and then again in 1988.

A visitor can see these prized possessions exhibited in the temple premises.

Among the chanters is 83-year-old Gokul Das, a former professor of economics at the V N Mehta College of Arts and Commerce here.

"I am singing Ram dhun for the last 10 years, and these have been the happiest years of my life," he says, adding he has even turned out for his 'duty' at odd hours of the night.

According to Gusani, there are no miracles associated with the temple or with Prem Bhikuji.

"He was a simple man who did not believe in miracles. He never allowed people to assume a supernatural aura around him. That is why he is so much admired and revered."

Gusani says Prem Bhikuji is never worshiped in the temple. "People worship only Lord Ram and bal Hanuman."

In order to avoid skipping of the practice, four chanters each for the day and night have been permanently arranged by the trust.

"The chanting has never stopped, not even during the devastating earthquake of 2001. It will never stop," he hopes.

(Published 26 December 2010, 04:46 IST)

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