Reunited parents allow son to undertake Sabarimala pilgrimage

Reunited parents allow son to undertake Sabarimala pilgrimage

Sheikh Shabir with his parents.

Wrapped in a bond of joyous family reunion with their lost son after nearly 16 years, an aged Muslim couple from Andhra Pradesh had a touching take to offer on religious amity with their catholic action.

Fifty-six-year-old Sheikh Muran and his 40-year-old wife Zubaidha Begum, from Allipallam in Andhra Pradesh, had by fate’s dismay found their son Sheikh Shabir alias Ali going missing at the tender age of five.

The boy, who by a tumble of events managed to reach Chennai Central long years back by a train he had accidentally got into, was weeping on the platform, prompting some onlookers to hand him over to an NGO here.

Shabir now 20 years, while staying at the orphanage hostel managed to complete his school and then got a job in a leather factory here. Growing up with friends since then, Shabir’s longing for his parents grew.

With whatever information about his village he could rummage from memory, Shabir’s colleague in the leather unit launched a search for his parents. Some good Samaritans in the local Lions Club also came to their aid and finally managed to locate Shabir’s parents after two months.

The boy’s parents were then brought here on Friday, when the trio instantly recognised each other. The lionians then formally united the boy with his parents at the Chennai Central Railway Police station on Saturday.

Tears of joy rolled down the wrinkled face of the aged couple who fondly kissed Shabir’s cheeks in a rollicking confirmation of their son.

Living with Hindu friends, Shabir had vowed to visit the famous Lord Ayappa shrine in Sabarimala this season in neighbouring Kerala, in the hope that he might again meet his parents.

40-day fasting

Shabir initiated himself into the 40-day “vratha” sporting a “rudraksha maala” and black shawl round his neck, as other pilgrims to Sabarimala do. And as providence would have it, he found his parents earlier than expected.

An overjoyed Sheikh Muran and Zubaidha, on hearing of their son’s vow had no objection to him readying for a Sabarimala pilgrimage.

The boy’s parents only wanted him to visit their home first in Andhra Pradesh and then proceed to the temple, a Railway police official said, quoting the Muslim couple as having uttered: “Let Shabir visit Sabarimala as he wishes, we are only too happy about it.”

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