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Temple loves Mata but can't stomach 'Khan'

Anuradha Nagraj

Posted: Sep 06, 2005 at 0936 hrs IST

For the past five days, the Trimbakeshwar temple has echoed with the “soothing voice” of former pop star Parvati Khan. Singing bhajans under the guise of Parvati Mata, she enthralled priests and devotees.

But the departure of the former pop singer—a Hindu, originally from the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, now married to a Muslim—has created a storm in the temple town, which only allows Hindus inside its premises.

Trimbakeshwar was Khan’s 10th stop on her way to the 12 jyotirlingas (places of pilgrimage to Shiva) in the country. She is on a peace mission—started in 2002—for “ekta aur insaniyat” (unity and humanity). After being heckled in Kashi and stoned in Hingoli, Marathwada, this time round, Khan took no chances.

Dropping their last name, the Khan family (husband Nadeem and son Jatin) stayed in Trimbakeshwar for five days. Every morning, Khan walked into the temple with her synthesiser and sang bhajans. Soon, news of the “mata with a melodious voice” spread across the town and hundreds gathered to listen.

“She created such a beautiful atmosphere here,” gushes priest Upendra Shikhre, unaware of Khan’s real identity. “Her voice drew hundreds of devotees here every day, many more than the temple normally sees on an average day. The last five days were so serene.” But now, priest Ulhas Aaradi is a bitter man. “If only we had known earlier...If people of Trimbakeshwar had known, they would have told her to get out.” Only Hindus are allowed in the temple.

Khan says she was expecting the opposition. “I don’t feel bad because I know that God is with me in every move I make. I am moving as a messenger of peace and my devotion to Shiva is the same as that for Allah and Jesus.”

From the days of Jimmy, Jimmy and Dil Deewana Ho Gaya in the ’80s to her “peace compositions”, Khan has come a long way. She embarked on her pilgrimage after “a famous Maharashtrian saint” told her that she should get the “blessings of Lord Shiva” for her endeavour and visit the 12 jyotirlingas. She started with Somnath, ran into opposition in Kashi, entered Trimbakeshwar under an alias and is already planning her next trip to Kedarnath.

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