Hindus in Rajasthan's border villages observe 'roza'

Hindus in Rajasthan's border villages observe 'roza'

Hindus in Rajasthan's border villages observe 'roza'
In a rare display of religious amity, several Hindus in villages along the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan observe ‘roza’ (fast) along with Muslims during the holy month of Ramzan.

The practice, prevalent among members of the Meghwal community that follow Rajput saint Pir Pithora, whose shrine is in Pakistan’s Sindh province, is more common in Barmer and Jaisalmer districts, which form the 2,500-km border with Pakistan.

Visitors to these villages will not find it easy to distinguish Hindus from Muslims during the holy month.
The community, however, does not make fasting compulsory and allows people to observe it from two weeks to just five days.

Besides observing roza, the Hindus also pray facing the west — in the direction of the Islamic holy shrine of Mecca — during Iftar, when the fast comes to an end.

Megh Ram Gadhveer, associate professor of history at JNVU Jodhpur, has been observing roza for the past three decades. “Pir Pathora was a follower of Baha-ud-Din Zakariya, who is buried in Multan. Some others observe Ramzan since they follow the woman Muslim saint, Jaitaan,” he said.

The practice seems common among the refugee Hindus, who crossed over during the 1965 and 1971 wars and have settled down in border villages like Godhad Ka Tala, Rabasar, Sata, Sinhania, Bakhasar and Kelnore.

On the decline

However, according to Gadhveer, the number of Hindus undertaking the Ramzan fast is on the decline as it is hard to persuade the younger generation to continue the tradition. “We cannot force it on them. The feeling (of observing the fast) should come from within,” he said.

Local priest Sharaha Ram believes observing the Ramzan fast takes followers closer to Pir Pithora. “Fasting cleanses the body and soul. The experience also helps us understand both religions better,” Ram said.

Experts said such practices play a vital role in creating social harmony, especially across the border. “These practices would help reduce growing religious intolerance, especially at a time when cow vigilantism and lynching in Rajasthan grab headlines,” sociologist Asha Sharma said.