The village, Ladlapur, is nestled amidst open farms. A small hill at the centre of the village is hard to miss. The hill is famous for its shrine, belonging to Sufi saint Haji Sarwar. Here, Hindus and Muslims worship together.
Mysterious Tale of the Sufi Saint
According to the legend, an aged man traveling from far North was visiting the village when he met two children – one a Hindu and the other a Muslim. The man asked the children for one glass of milk and a glass of water. After accepting their kind hospitality, he used the water to wash his hands and then gulped down the glass of milk.
He blessed the children and asked them to look away as he decided to continue traveling. Yielding to temptation, the children turned back to look at the holy man, only to find a huge hill instead.
The shrine was built on this hill, the legend goes. At Haji Sarwar dargah, people of all communities revere the saint. In the recently held ‘Gandhotsava,’ Hindus and Muslims of Ladlapur village in Chittapura came together to celebrate. While the Muslims of this village call the saint Sarwar, Hindus call him Sharanu – a term used to refer to Shaivait devotees among Lingayats.
Gandhotsava: A Festival of Hindu-Muslim Unity
Every year, on the first Thursday after the first full moon following Ugadi, the five-day long Gandhotsava is celebrated.
The festival has a ritual where an offering of coconut is placed on a metal pot, kalasha, with a large mouth. The Lingayats hold the kalasha. The Muslims continue to offer prayers at the shrine and maintain the dargah.
Inside the dargah, five Kalashas representing the five tenets of Islam, a trident, and silver horses representing the Hindu deity Hirodeshwara are kept.
At the bottom of the hill is a temple for Hirodeshwara.
'No Differences Between Communities'
In the festival, five kalasas and two silver horses are first brought to the Hirodeshwara temple at the bottom of the hill. The articles are then carried to the top of dargah, where the Muslim religious leaders recite Quranic verses. Flowers are offered to both Hindu and Muslim priests.
“There are no differences among communities in our village. As our tradition goes, we continue to be brothers, taking different responsibilities to offer our love to Sufi saint Haji Sharanu."Shantha Kumar, Ladlapur Resident and Devotee
According to Muslim devotees, the saint Haji Sarwar is celebrated by all and the jaatre (village festival) continues to be an important celebration for the village. In the jaatre, which is also celebrated for five days, people from the neighboring districts open their stalls to sell toys, fruits, and flowers.