Punjab Research Group

Faith of choice by Amitabh Srivastava

Posted in Articles by Pippa on August 11, 2009

India Today July 23, 2009
It’s a nondescript temple at Halhalia village in Bihar’s Araria district. It doesn’t have an idol; a mound of earth in one corner of the roofless one-room shrine represents Din Bhadri Devi, the local deity. Its walls are bare, but for priest Amlanand Rishidev, there is a more pressing problem than the upkeep of the temple: there is no one to inherit his priesthood. Halhalia village is home to over 100 families of which 28 have converted to Sikhism.

So have about a hundred families in several adjoining villages of the district, including Parwanpur, Godbelsara, Bakhri and Maudhabalia. Amlanand, however, isn’t bitter about the “gradual obliteration of faith”. His only son Nirdosh Singh and his family have also converted to Sikhism. The men sport straggly beards, wear saafas and have kirpans slung across their shoulders. The women still wear saris and on special occasions they slip into the traditional salwar-kurta. Pidgin Punjabi can be heard everywhere, even though the womenfolk have never visited Punjab.


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