A tree and two shrines

WHILE TRAVELLING AROUND India, I have seen many trees that serve some kind of Hindu religious purpose. Often they are peepul trees, whose leaves are heart-shaped. Frequently, there is some kind of shrine next to the trunk, and often there are fine threads wrapped around the circumference of the trunk.

Near the middle of the market place in 8the Goan town of Mapusa, there is an old tree next to which there are two shrines. The tree’s leaves did not look like those of a peepul tree. What interested me was that at first sight both of the shrines, which resemble small huts, looked similar.

On closer examination, it could be seen that one of the shrines was, as I expected, Hindu, and the other was, to my surprise, Christian.

Whether this close proximity of the two shrines was pure coincidence or related to the fact that the tree provides good shade, I cannot say. Another possible explanation of the closeness might possibly be a symptom of inter-religious tolerance in this small Goan town. Who can say? Whatever the explanation for the closeness of the two shrines, it was heartening to see.

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