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Hajo- A place where religion makes you Humane
Can religion play a constructive role in humanizing modern pluralistic soci...
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TESTIMONIALS
  • This is the best body of work in infra-red photography that I have seen in India.
      Shri S. Paul
    Photographer, on the infra red exhibition Ladakh Huess
     
  • I am proud to know this couple- Shamim and Sasmita. This book reflects the labour of their love. We could reach the place because of the power of his lens.
      Janab Arif Mohammed Khan
    Former state minister, at the inauguration of the book
     
  • Words fail me; outstanding!
      Mr. Rajiv Lochan
    Director NAGMA, on "One Fine Tuesday"
     
  • At times Delhi looks beautiful but the kind of flavour Shamim has brought about in black and white is not only very beautiful but after this book we all will see these monuments from a fresh perspective.

    ( while unveiling of the book 'Forgotten Dilli - Portrait of an immortal city')


    Extraordinarily taken pictures. Akhtar is someone we are proud of.

    ( on 'Ladakh Hues " )
      Mrs. Sheila Dixit
    Ex-CM Delhi
     
  • When stones burst into songs

    Qutub Minar must count among the most sketched, painted and photographed monuments of the world. What the Eiffel Tower is to Parisians, the Big Ben to Londoners, the Brandenburg Gate to Berliners and the Statue of Liberty to New Yorkers, the Qutub Minar is to Dilliwallahs. It is older and more spectacular than all the other monuments.

    I have seen hundreds of photographs of Qutub Minar but none to match the cover of Forgotten Dilli, Portrait of an Immortal City by Sasmita S. Akhtar and Shamim Akhtar. Shamim is a Bihari Muslim, now in the IAS, posted in Delhi. Sasmita is an Oriya Brahmin, a sociologist, who is a product of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Between them, they produced a pictorial album on Lakshadweep and now one on the old monuments of Delhi.

    Sasmita has written the text; Shamim has taken the photographs. They have limited their work to the end of the Mughal dynasty in 1857. They have pictures of baolis (step wells), dargahs (Sufi shrines), forts, mosques, and mausoleums. What arrests the readers attention is the interplay of light and shade on trees and clouds to highlight every monument.

    It is a sheer joy to turn over the pages of the book again and again. It reminded me of an old film song, 'Geet gaaya paththaron ne ' 'The stones burst with songs'.
      Mr. Khuswant Singh
    The Telegraph, 6th March 2010
     
  • 'A stunning exhibition, highlighting the unique beauty of Ladakh...extremely impressed by the quality of his images.'

    (on the exhibition, Rode to Heaven in 2008)

    'I have great pleasure in commending this book to all those who love mountains. Packed with photographs, there are short descriptive notes which are useful.'

    (In the foreword of the book, Rode to heaven: Ladakh in 2009)

    ...I myself have not been able to go to Kailasa nor will I be able to go to in this life; but after reading this book I feel I have also done half parikarma.'

    (At the inauguration of the book, 'Kailasa: A journey within' , at the Shanti Stupa, on the 30th of Jan. 2011)
      Dr. Karan Singh
    At the inauguration of the book, 'Kailasa: A journey within', at the Shanti Stupa, on the 30th of Jan. 2011
     
August 29, 2015
Hajo- A place where religion makes you Humane

Can religion play a constructive role in humanizing modern pluralistic societies is a question that has been haunting for centuries to the social scientist. A look at the human history in the last thousand year or so, tells otherwise. religious intolerance, rise of fundamentalism, hatred is engulfing mankind. One religion that could be the path of salvation to one community has become the fear for existence to another community.

Religious intolerance has also given rise to " terrorism", we may say a billion times that terrorism has no religion, but most of the terrorists today are being " led" by their own faith.

In such a time , when communalism and fundamentalism is on rise worldwide including India, coming across a place like Hajo in Assam is a pleasant surprise.

Hajo, 25 Kilometer from Guwahati , is a religious meeting point of three religions. For Hindus , Kedarnath Temple is exact replica of the Kedarnath Shrine of Uttrakhand. A temple of Shiva.

The Madhav Temple, belonging to Lord Vishnu is also a Buddhist Shrine. It is believed to have sacred remains of Lord Buddha in it.

Poa Makka comprises of two sacred structures. Dargah of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Auliya and a mosque. As per the history , of Sultan Ghiyasuddin was the Governor and Chief of Army of Kamrup and was Sufi saint of higher order. Local tradition says that he was one of the earliest propagators of Islam in the then Kamrup. The mosque in the premises was constructed during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shahjahan.

There are two version of  Poa Makka, one is that of Sultan Ghiyasuddin brought a handful of Soil from Makka  here , another is during the reign of Ahom Rulers this Dargah was known as Bar Moqam ( big religious place). The Ahom king Lakshmi Sinha ( 18th Century) appointed Anwar Haji Faqir as manager of the Moqam and granted one fourth  ( Poa) share of revenue from the total income of the land under its jurisdiction as subsistence allowance. Because of this one fourth share, this is called Poa Makka.

Leaving these two version aside, the fact that will catch the eyeball of all the social scientist is , all these three religious place, The Kedarnath Temple of Shiva, Madhav Temple of Buddha and the Poa Makka is revered by all the residents of Hajo.

Muslims are in management committee of Madhav and Kedarnath. Hindus are in the management committee of Poa Makka and  visit it on Guru Purnima and Kedarnath temple is visited by Buddhists from worldwide once in year.

In today's era of fundamentalism,  humanity can learn from Hajo  how to co-exist in harmony in pluralistic society and this is where the question gets answered that if practiced in true spirit , religion does play a constructive role in humanizing modern pluralistic society.

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