Jhulay Lal: The Cradle Of Tolerance And Endurance

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Jhulay Lal: The Cradle Of Tolerance And Endurance

One of my colleagues once asked me that whether I thought it was possible that the Muslims and the Hindus can pray in the same place?

Obviously like most of the people my answer was no and especially if we were talking about Pakistan. He smiled at me and said that there is a place like that and not far from here. And to get the validity of this fact I travelled to Jhulay Lal to see it for myself. The most interesting thing is that in this era of religious discrimination that there is a place where religious harmony still exists like the old religious traditions. The shrine of Jhulay Lal is such one place.

It was a hot April day but some cold breeze made the journey bearable and we reached the shrine. Odero Lal where the shrine is situated 40 kilometers away from Sindh`s District Sangarh. This is a silence ridden city in the middle of which the shrine is located.The front facade of the shrine.

People selling little goods and snacks can be seen all around the shrine with people visiting sitting on hotels to drink tea while a radio plays a Sindhi folk song in a loud volume. Houses were small while the streets were very narrow but we didn’t face any problem in reaching the shrine.

The white tomb of the shrine can be seen from afar shinning in the sky while the shrine inside is white from top to bottom and the walls give a sense of a historical castle. The interior is comparably new and constructed recently. The wooden carvings on the door seem very beautiful. An annual festival and Urs is held in the honor of the pious which is attended by all sorts of people from all around the world. With this is also a room in the shrine where the pairs of this pious man`s shoes are kept.Two pigeons are resting inside a niche

Jhulay Lal is said to be connected to the River Indus while he was regarded as an incarnation of the Hindu god of the rivers “Varun”.

Most of the Muslims regard him as Hazrat Khwaja Khizr regarding who is said that he was a guide to those who got lost as sea or river while travelling. Fishermen hold more honor and regard for him and he is also known as by the names of Zinda Pir, Sheikh Tahir, Khwaja Khizr, Odeera Lal and Amar Lal.Sandals that are believed to belong to the saint.

According to the different references from the Colonial times, this pious man came here in the seventeenth century. When cruel ruler of Thatta named Mir Kho Shah forcefully tried to convert the Hindus into Muslims, the Hindus took refuge near the Indus River and fasted in order to seek help form the River.  Upon this, a face appeared in the water which told them that a baby boy would be blessed to an old couple in Nasarpur who would be their salvation and will save them.

The boy was named Odera Lal and he was given the title of Jhulay Lal because the swing he was in would move on its own. This little boy grew into a brave man who stood against the cruel ruler and made him realize his mistakes upon which the ruler agreed to let the Hindus of the region live with liberty.

When one enters the shrine, the whole soul is suddenly filled with peace and serenity. The tiled floor was comparably cooler so we sat silently on it. The air inside the shrine was very different and there was a yellow light scattered in the whole place because of the many lit diyas.When one enters the shrine,

Whenever people try to portray Jhulay Lal they either do it by portraying him sitting on a Palla fish (famous fish of the River Indus) or sitting in a horse. It is believed that he disappeared in a well with his horse and it’s the same place where the shrine is built.A poster showing Jhulay Lal riding the Palla fish.

From that day this place has become a common union point for both Hindus and Muslims. This shrine in Odero Lal hosts a Hindu temple as well as a Muslim based shrine while the caretakers of the place are both Hindus and Muslims. In the evening, the Hindus here perform their rituals pojapat while the Muslims offer namaz.

People had all sorts of color strings and cloth tied to a tree in the terrace for their wishes to come true and they untied only when their wishes have been granted. On the happiness of their wishes come true, the devotees bring gifts to the shrine in return.    WHATSAPP   38 COMMENTS   EMAIL   PRINT One of my colleagues asked me some time ago:  ‘Can you believe that Hindus and Muslims can pray at the same place simultaneously?’  ‘Well, of course not, at least not in Pakistan,’ I swiftly retorted.  He smiled and responded mysteriously, ‘There is a place not far from here where they do.’  It was the curiosity to confirm this statement that led me to the shrine of Jhulay Lal. Interestingly, contrary to the popular conceptions of the puritanical and narrow confines of religion, there still exist certain elements in our society that are a manifestation of our centuries’ old traditions of religious coexistence.  The shrine of Saint Jhulay Lal is one of these examples.  The main dome. The main dome. The front facade of the shrine. The front facade of the shrine. We visited the shrine on a hot April day, though the cool breeze made it somewhat bearable. The town of Udero Lal, where the shrine is situated, lies almost 40 kilometers away from the Sanghar district. It is a small sleepy town with the shrine of a saint at its epicenter.  We arrived to see vendors selling edible items as people sipped tea in dhaba-styled hotels, with radio waves sailing through the air around us, piercing it with Sindhi folk music. The houses were small and the streets congested. But we had no difficulty reaching the shrine, for everyone we met knew the directions like the back of their hands.  The white domes of the shrine could be seen on the horizon from a distance. We entered the shrine and found it spick-and-span, painted spotless white with its battlements and bastions, reminiscent of an old fortress.  The inner sanctum, which is comparatively new, is a beautiful structure with ornate doors and exquisite woodwork. An Urs and fair commemorating the disappearance of the saint is held annually, where a large number of devotees from across Pakistan and abroad come and pay homage.  There is an adjoining room where a pair of sandals is kept, reportedly belonging to the saint.  Two pigeons are resting inside a niche. Two pigeons are resting inside a niche. A plaque documenting the repair work at the shrine. A plaque documenting the repair work at the shrine. An ornate passage leading to shrine. An ornate passage leading to shrine. A wooden door leading to the inner sanctum. A wooden door leading to the inner sanctum. A signboard indicating the place where the sandals are kept. A signboard indicating the place where the sandals are kept. Sandals that are believed to belong to the saint. Sandals that are believed to belong to the saint. Jhulay Lal is related to the River Indus and sometimes revered as an incarnation of the River God Varuna in Sindh.  Most Muslims call the saint Khwaja Khizar, who is believed to guide people travelling through water courses and on voyages. The muhanas or mallah (as the fishermen are called in Sindh), held the saint in high esteem. Jhulay Lal is also called Zinda Pir, Sheikh Tahir, Khawaja Khizar, Udero Lal and Amar Lal.  According to various historical and colonial accounts, Jhulay Lal is said to have lived in the 17th century. Mirkh Shah, the despotic ruler of Thatta, tried to forcibly convert his Hindu subjects to Islam. On hearing this, the Hindus went to the bank of the Indus, fasted and prayed to the River to liberate them from this ordeal.  As a result, an image appeared from the depths of the River and told them that a child would be born to an aged couple living at Nasarpur, who would help them.  The child was named Udero Lal and also given the title 'Jhulay Lal', as his cradle was said to swing on its own. This child grew up into a valiant man and argued with Mirkh Shah, who realised his mistake and let the Hindus peacefully live in his domains.  Bells ring during different times of the day. Bells ring during different times of the day. A poster showing Jhulay Lal riding the Palla fish. A poster showing Jhulay Lal riding the Palla fish. Lamps are burnt inside the temple. Lamps are burnt inside the temple. The jhula inside the shrine. The jhula inside the shrine. We entered the complex to the welcome of an eternal peace, enveloping everything around us. The tiled floor felt wonderfully cool, so we sat down in silence for some time. Inside the shrine, the air was laden with fragrance as the oil lamps were cast shadows over the walls; filling the room with a light yellowish glow.  Jhulay Lal is often depicted as sitting on a Palla fish (an indigenous species of the Indus) or riding on his horse. It is believed that he and his horse disappeared into a well mysteriously; his shrine now erected at the same place.  From that day on, the shrine has been a centre of attraction for thousands of Hindus and Muslims alike. The shrine, located in Udero Lal, houses a Hindu temple alongside a Muslim-style tomb, and the caretakers include both Hindus and Muslims. In the evenings, Hindus perform pooja and aaarti while Muslims too, offer prayers at the tomb .  The bell that is rung at the time of Pooja. The bell that is rung at the time of Pooja. The devotees tie threads to a tree. The devotees tie threads to a tree.

Upon return we also made a wish that there may forever be peace and harmony in our society and that there may be many more places and practices for religious harmony and brotherhood to keep the peace in the world alive. A view of the courtyard. A view of the courtyard

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