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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 13, 2007
Temple at Delhis Red Fort serves Hindus and Muslims fruit salad
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Temple at Delhis Red Fort serves Hindus and Muslims fruit salad

Delhis Akhand Jyoti Durga Temple, which is located on the Red Fort road, is spreading the message of communal harmony through a plate of spiced-up fruit salad.

By Sandeep DattaNew Delhi, May 13 : Delhi's Akhand Jyoti Durga Temple, which is located on the Red Fort road, is spreading the message of communal harmony through a plate of spiced-up fruit salad.

Be it a policeman, a rickshaw driver, a beggar, or a businessmen, everyone enjoys this tempting fruit salad at the mini temple, built in a 32 X 24 foot area.The temple is popularly known as "Pagal Baba Ka Mandir".

For the hundreds of pedestrians, especially the ones visiting the business district of Chandni Chowk, this temple provides a healthy break.

Most people take shelter under a nearby tree and then relish a plate full of fresh fruits sprinkled with sweet n` sour spices.

Hindus and Muslims putting aside their religious identities for some time and just enjoying the luscious fruit salad and drinking from a common water outlet, makes for a pleasant sight.

"While coming here, it never bothers us whether it's a Hindus' place or Muslims'. It is just like there are so many Hindus who relish food at our religious places i.e Jama Masjid and enjoy it. We just come here and love eating a plate full of so much fruit at just rupees five," said Irshad, a resident of Seelampur in East Delhi.

"The Baba, running the temple, is a very humble and friendly man. Everyday, he checks if there is any stale piece of fruit or not. He is helped by six to seven servants at the temple," said a policeman relishing fruit salad at the temple.

The snack costs just rupees five. The money collected is used for the temple's up keep.

It's forbidden to donate money at the temple as a message on the temple wall reads : "Bhikhsha Nahin, Uske Badle Kam Do"(Please avoid donations, offer work to the needy").

veryday, it takes seven to eight quintals of fruits to serve hundreds of people visiting the temple's only window from where the fruit salad is served. Unmindful of the season or the soaring market price of fruits, the temple sells the fruit plate containing over half-a-kilogram of fruit at a standard price.

The Akhand Jyoti Durga Temple was originally a "Pyao" (or, a free water outlet) run by an old man in 1948. Shankar Das, who used to sit nearby as a hawker, took over its charge after the old man died and got it registered under his name.

Shankar transformed it into a mini-temple to serve society. Nearly six decades later, the principle of a temple sustaining itself without donations is being followed both in letter and spirit.

"I wish to assert through this temple how a religious place can sustain itself without taking anyone's donation. It perturbs me witnessing people related to religious institutions showcasing a fall in morality. I wish to serve society in my own way without expecting anything in return," says 90-year-old Baba Shankar Das or Pagal Baba, the main priest and administrator of the temple.

Baba Shankar Das says he doesn't feel ashamed or insulted when he is addressed as "Pagal Baba" or, the crazy.

"I am called "Pagal" or, a crazy by everyone around with love. These neighbourhood shopkeepers and residents have named me like that because I have refused to save anything for myself. My everything belongs to others in society, who have literally forgotten the language of love. And, I am doing just my bit with a plate full of fruit salad."


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