UDUPI: Sheik Jaleel Saheb (53) from Padugrama, Kaup, is a picture of communal harmony in coastal parts of the state, which have been wracked by communal incidents in the recent past.Jaleel has a sacred job, that of playing ‘Nadaswaram’, a traditional wind instrument, during the fair at Hosa Marigudi Temple in Kaup.
A fourth generation Nadaswara player at Marigudi Temple, he inherited the art from his father, Babu Saheb. His grandfather Imam Saheb and great grandfather Mugdam Saheb too were Nadaswaram players at temples.
“It is my duty to serve the ‘God’,” says Jaleel, who travels to different places to perform Kola and Ashlesha Bali rituals. He is a devout Muslim, but is forced to miss some Friday namaz prayers in a year because of his commitment to Hindu festivals. "But whenever I am at home, I see to it that I never miss a namaz,” he says.
"I am oblivious to happenings outside, but the Suggi Maari Pooje went well on March 22 and 23. Communal harmony should be paramount in society,” he adds. The coastal region has been in the grip of a controversy as temples have banned Muslim vendors from putting up stalls at fairs.
Jaleel, who has studied up to Class 9, says he is not worried about who will take the sacred profession forward in his family. “I have a daughter, but somebody else in my family will be selected or motivated by the Goddess to serve at her feet in the future. If this has continued for four generations, it will continue in the coming generations too,” he says.
As the holy month of Ramzan begins next weekend, Jaleel too observes fast like his other family members. “I have never missed it. I think God gives me the strength to play Nadaswaram even when I am fasting. When it gets really hot around 3 pm, I do get a little tired. But still God stands with me and nothing worse has happened. Performing in the summer months of March, April and May in the coastal region is a challenge. But a miracle happens to me to stay without hydrating my body for the entire day,” he says.
His grandfather Imam Saheb had performed for 60 years. After his demise, his father Babu Saheb took up the task. Now, Jaleel Saheb, who also earns a little from his one-acre paddy fields, has been performing for the last 35 years.