Balasore: Zarina Begum (42), a woman of the minority community of this town, has broken the barrier of a particular religion by adopting the principles and philosophy of universal brotherhood and tolerance of other religions.

Although she is a Muslim, like the previous years, she recited several thousand mantras Maha Mrutunjaya as well as Gayatri mantra attributed to Lord Shiva, silently in her home at Machhuasahi on the occasion of Maha Shiva Ratri.

“In the early hours of Maha Shivratri, I completed Japas with the malas (in a mala there are generally 108 beads) besides my usual Koran reading and observed fast through out the day. Being a non-working day I had no problem,” Zarina said.

Her strong inclination towards Hindu religion although caused some commotions among the fellow people of her community in the past yet she could overcome them with the support of his husband S. K. Moin Khan.

“I believe in all Hindu mythologies and have faith on the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. I get peace and pleasure by worshipping them. Although in past I encountered certain problems, yet I could convince the fellow community members that I have equal love and respect for other religions especially for Hinduism. I respect my religion and strictly follow all the rituals like rozas (a penance undergone during the month of Ramzan),” Zarina said.

“I have never objected or imposed any restrictions on her for worshipping Hindu Gods or Goddesses. But I have always suggested her to do what is acceptable to the society,” said Moin Khan, her husband.

“I recite the Stotra of lord Ganesh 1008 times during Ganesh Chaturthi. I have strong love and respect for Hinduism and have visited several temples across India including Haridwar. Lord Shiva and Jagannath are my most revered gods,” added Zarina.

It was on August 24 2009 that she discovered Om shape in the brinjals while slicing them for making curry. Coincidentally it was the day of Ganesh Chatruthi in Hindu religion and the month of Roza in Muslim religion. People from the neighbouring as well as far villages thronged to her house to see the same. Her house was crowded with the curious onlookers. Many of them worshipped the symbol on the vegetable considering it as manifestation of God. This coincidence of the incident that happened on Ganesh Chaturthi during her penance month further enriched her belief that god is one.

Moreover, Zarina has been teaching Sanskrit in Barabati Girls’ High School for almost two and half decades. “Sanskrit has been my favourite subject. I enjoy teaching it,” she added.

Fellow teachers and neighbours beleive that she is pious in nature and her prayer can ward off evils.

“I have been seeing her since two decades and believe that she has attained some special power. Many a times I have approached her during our hard times and have found miraculous results,” says Bijaya Bardhan, a childhood friend and a teacher of Maharshi Vidya Mandir.