Cheetah-Mehrat/ dual religion

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Cheetah-Mehrat/ dual religion

The Times of India

Puja & namaaz, part of this community


Jaipur: For the Cheetah-Mehrat community, the Ayodhya land dispute is a non-issue. An embodiment of the true spirit of the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb, this community practises both Hinduism and Islam. They offer puja and namaaz under one roof. There are families in the Cheetah-Meharat community, half of whose members worship at a mosque while the rest go to the temple to pray the Hindu way.

‘‘There is nothing better than peace, harmony and love for mankind. Religion doesn’t teach hatred. Whatever causes tension, should be discarded by all,’’ said Chand Bhai, sarpanch of Khakheri village, around 10km from Pushkar.

For Chand Bhai and other members of the Cheeta-Meharat community, most of whom belong to Rajasthan’s Ajmer-Beawar region, this is how they have been living for ages. ‘‘We don’t find any difference between going a mosque or a temple,’’ he said.

The community members follow both Hindu and Muslim customs and they are determined to keep their unique tradition alive. Chand Bhai had married according to Hindu rituals but his daughter Shakina had a nikaah. ‘‘Our community is the true ambassador of a secular India,’’ he claimed with pride.

Rustam Cheeta of the Cheeta-Mehrat Mahasabha agreed. ‘‘The Ayodhya issue doesn’t perturb us as we hardly find any difference between the two religions.’’ There have been attempts to wean away the community members by various religious fanatics. They had even been offered money to adopt a particular religion. But they thwarted such efforts calling them ‘‘ludicrous.

We had to struggle against several attempts to dilute the essence of our religion. Our community elders guide us to keep our unique religion alive,’’ said Jalaluddin Cheeta. There is no documented historic account about the exact origin of the community. But legend has it that they are descendants Chauhan Rajputs. They claim descent from Rao Anhal Chauhan, who along with his brother Rao Anoop Chauhan set up a small kingdom in the region, then known as Magra Merwara by defeating the Gujjars.

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