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Hassan salutes the magic of Sayeed Hussain who built a Shiva temple – Mrit News

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Sayeed Hussain not only got plots from the Karnataka Government for nomadic families to build houses, but also used his earnings to build a temple in the locality

Sayeed Hussain not only got plots from the Karnataka Government for nomadic families to build houses, but also used his earnings to build a temple in the locality

Amidst controversies over places of worship, the people of Hassan fondly remember the late Sayeed Hussain, a street magician and musician, who built a Shiva temple at Gandhi Nagar in Hosakoplu.

A native of Kolar, Sayeed Hussain learnt the basics of magic from P.C. Sorcar at a young age. Like his father Sayeed Moulasab, a snake charmer, he went from place to place exhibiting his skills. Wherever he went, he would put up a makeshift tent for his family. Whenever he took a break from touring, he found Hassan to be an ideal place to stay.

Tourist attraction

His touring would take him to venues of festivals ( jatre) and religious congregations where he would perform magic tricks and play music. At other times, he spent his days on the premises of Hotel Ashoka in Hassan, giving performances in front of tourists. Hundreds of people from different countries would stay in the hotel during their visit to the tourist attractions around Hassan, including Belur, Halebid and Shravanabelagola. After watching his performance, a few gave him letters of appreciation, including Abraham T. Kovoor of Sri Lanka Rationalist Association, Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa and renowned sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar.

Hussain used a simple two-string bow instrument to play music and won many hearts with his performances. Karnataka Janapada and Yakshagana Academy honoured him with the State award in 1998, a year before he died at the age of 82.

For many years, his family lived in makeshift tents on the outskirts of the city. Like him, many nomadic families had put up tents. Hussain took leadership of the community and staged protests in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in 1976 demanding plots to build houses.

Dhirendra Singh, then Deputy Commissioner of Hassan, agreed to fulfil the demand and allotted land near Hosakoplu. The locality was later named Gandhi Nagar. The nomadic families gradually built houses by applying for government-sponsored housing schemes.

Nagamma, a resident of Gandhi Nagar, says, “Hussain’s was the first family to settle in our locality. He ensured that the locality got a borewell. Besides basic amenities for the locality, he put his own money to build a temple for us, with contributions from other people too. Earlier, it was a small structure, but now, it has been renovated.”

Senior citizens of the locality associate the temple with Sayeed Hussain. Dr. M.S. Shekhar, Director of Gandhi Study Centre at Mysore University, has written a book Janapada Jadugara about the life and contribution of Sayeed Hussain.

“This is the time to spread the story of Sayeed Hussain when some people are trying to divide people on the basis of religion. He was a great artist and performer, and a noble human being. With his little earnings, he ensured his Hindu neighbours got a temple,” Mr. Shekhar told The Hindu.

A role model

Many activists and intellectuals remember Hussain’s contributions to Hassan. Krishna Das, a leader of Dalit Sangharsha Samiti in Hassan, said, “Hussain’s life is a perfect example of harmonious living. A few groups with political interests are seeking a ban on participation of Muslim traders and craftsmen in Hindu festivals. They are trying to keep out people like Hussain who earned their livelihood by exhibiting their skills at such events. I hope that people in power do not accept such demands,” he said.

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