This devout Lingayat fasts every Ramzan

This devout Lingayat fasts every Ramzan

Religion no bar

A 68-year-old Lingayat has been fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramzan for last 23 years.

Mahantappa B Navadagi (68), president of the Muddebihal Taluk Kannada Sahitya Parishat, has generated immense goodwill in Vijayapura district with his practice.

“It all began in 1995,” Navadagi told DH. His friends M D Mummin, K D Bhagawana and M D Bhagawana, all Muslims, explained to him the significance of the holy month and the health benefits of fasting. “That’s when I decided to try it,” he said. Some people thought it was odd and asked him questions. He had till then had performed Lingayat puja rituals, and was suddenly taking up an Islamic ritual.

“I told them I was doing it for my health and happiness. Soon, the opposition died down,” he said. His wife Mahadevi stood by him. She began preparing food early in the morning. He wakes before dawn, takes a bath, smears vibhuti (holy ash) on his forehead, performs puja to Shiva and eats his pre-fast meal.

At the meal, after which he must give up food and water through the day, he chants a one-line prayer: “God, this food and water are yours. I consume them and then begin the fast.”

“These lines occur in the Quran,” he said. He ends the fast by eating dates. 

Navadagi doesn’t offer prayers five times at the mosque, as devout Muslims do. “The fasting has immensely improved my physical and mental health. It also boosts my courage,” he explained. He is invited by his Muslims friends on Eid-ul-Fitr for lunch.

He is the only member of the family to practise the ritual. “I don’t insist on anybody following my example. However, 10 friends inspired by me fast for a few days during the month. They have found acceptance in town,” he adds. Over the years, Navadagi has earned respect for redefining inter-religion relationships. Navadagi, a BA and BCom graduate, has served as president, Muddebihal Town Municipal Council, and taluk president of the Janata Party.