Asai (Etawah)

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Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

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A history

The Times of India, Apr 11 2015

Faiz Rahman Siddiqui

In UP village, unbroken faith in broken idols

Some thousand years ago invaders smashed and desecrated shrines in this village.They uprooted deities, desecrating the places of worship, defacing the idols.Those invaders are long gone. The broken idols remain -still a source of comfort, hope and blessing for thousands who visit them. In Hinduism, praying to damaged-idols is considered inauspicious. Such an act apparently brings bad luck. But folks of Asai, a speck on the UP map amid the ravines of Chambal, have undying faith in the powers of their broken idols.

The defaced Shiva, Durga and Kali idols carved on stone draw ZO thousands. Here there's no caste bar, everyone is welcome. The village has a damaged Mahavira statue too.

Legend has it that Mohammed of Ghori destroyed the shrines. “He ordered his men to smash the idols and loot the temple treasures,“ Shailendra Sharma, history teacher at a reputed Etawah college informed.

“Our gods have broken arms, they are defaced. Yet we revere and worship them.

Our forefathers offered prayers to them. Now we do. Our gods protect us from misNES fortunes, ward off evil influences and keep us safe,“ Ravindra Dikshit, vil lage head of Asai, said. The month of Shrawan, Shiv ratri and Durga Puja are im portant occasions here.

“Chambal was once the proverbial badlands and powerful dacoits spread fear among villagers. Ban dits lived dangerous lives and routinely came to the shrines here seeking blessings. Some even underwent a change of heart and vowed to shun violence,“ Dikshit says.

Passing by the temples, villagers chant: “Baar Baar Kashi, Ek Baar Asai...,“ a mantra that infuses them with a sense of wellbeing and protection. Kailash Nihor says: “We get peace in our temples,“ as he rushes off to tend to his fields.

“Once there were nearly 200 idols here, now only 10 or 12 survive,“ Dikshit says.“Smugglers took away the others.“ Villagers say today they guard their guardian deities with their lives.

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