In an exemplary show of solidarity and peace, Muslims in Maharashtra's Shirdi have urged the local police and administration to allow the Saibaba temple to use loudspeakers to amplify the Aartis. Expressing their displeasure at the Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan Trust's decision to stop using loudspeakers, members of Shirdi's Jama Masjid and local representatives of the Muslim community have written a letter to the authorities on the issue.
In a letter to the local police station, the trustees,, SP Ahmednagar, Shirdi Sai Sansthan CEO, local elected representatives, and the Tehsildar said, "It is inappropriate to sever the strong bond and brotherhood that Shirdi's Hindu and Muslim communities have shared for centuries. Why should a footling debate involving loudspeakers be publicised in this way? Even though we have decided not to broadcast morning Azaan on loudspeakers according to the Supreme Court order, we request that 'kakad aarti' be broadcast on loudspeakers daily as usual.
Earlier, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray had issued an ultimatum to the state, saying that mosques stop using loudspeakers during Azaan. Thackeray also announced stopping the practice by May 3 or else MNS activists will play the Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers outside mosques. The issue brought back into focus the Supreme Court's guidelines on using loudspeakers. In a verdict delivered in 2005, it had ruled that loudspeakers or public address systems could only be used between 6 am and 10 pm.
Five Aartis are performed at the Shirdi Sai Baba temple daily. Most tourists and locals want to attend the major ones, like bhupali aarti (5 am), kakad aarti (5.15 am), and shej aarti or shayan aarti at 10 pm. The temple authorities stopped using loudspeakers on May 4 under the SC guidelines, upsetting locals, Mid-Day reported.
A day later, the Jama Masjid Trust in Shirdi submitted the written request to the Tehsildar's office and the Shirdi police station, saying not to sacrifice the age-old tradition for political benefits. Please allow loudspeakers at Shirdi Sai Temple for kakad aarti," it stated.
'Purely Political Gains'
Elaborating on their stand on the loudspeaker row, Jama Masjid Trust's Secretary Haji Sayyed Ibrahim Hussain said, "The general public has no problem with communities using loudspeakers. These are purely political issues. Whatever it is, we do not want to sever the brotherhood and communal harmony that has existed for generations. We believe that devotees who cannot enter the temple for Aarti should be able to hear it over the loudspeaker."
Mohamadiya Jamat Khana, head of the Urdu Education Society at Shirdi, Haji Abdul Gani Aziz Pathan said that they have been living in Shirdi for four generations and most people start their day by listening to Kakad and Bhupali Aarti.
'People Of All Faiths Live Peacefully'
"We grew up listening to stories from our elders that Sai Baba never practised any particular religion other than humanity. He helped and supported people of all faiths who were in need. Residents here do the same thing and live in peace," Khana said.
"Both Hindus and Muslims celebrate all festivals together. On Ram Navami, when Hindus celebrate Ram Janma Utsav, Muslims perform the Chandan procession and apply sandal paste to Saibaba's samadhi. We hope that this tradition continues the same way as it has been for decades," he added.
Officials To Strictly Adhere To SC Guidelines
Gulabrao Patil, police inspector at Shirdi police station, confirmed receiving a letter from the trust. "The mosque has already stopped using its loudspeakers as directed by the Apex Court. From May 4, even the Saibaba temple has stopped broadcasting Aarti on loudspeaker. We appreciate and respect the sentiments of community leaders and Jama Masjid trust; however we cannot take decisions on individual cases but will have to follow the law," he explained.
As per Bhagyashree Banayat (IAS), CEO of the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi, the Saibaba Temple has not entirely discontinued loudspeakers. Banayat said that the Sansthan officials strictly adhere to the Supreme Court guidelines.
"On Eid, we received a letter from the local police station informing us to follow the guidelines. Therefore, on May 4 and 5, the bhupali, kakad, and shej aarti were performed over public address systems, keeping decibel levels to 45db, as mandated by the Apex Court," Banayat said.
I came to know about the trust's letter but I am yet to receive it. We respect their gesture and kindness. It's encouraging to see communities standing up for one another and respecting each other's feelings," she added.