Thursday, April 9, 2009

Balahari

Balahari a sect founded by Balaram Hari who belonged to the sweeper caste. Balaram was born in the village of Malopara in MEHERPUR district. Balaram died at the age of sixty-five in 1890 at his Meherpur residence, which was converted into an AKHDA (a resort for saints). He left behind his wife or seva-dasi (partner in faith) that took care of his akhda and his followers after his death.
As a young man, Balaram was a watchman of the Mallick family of Meherpur. When an idol belonging to the Mallicks was stolen along with some gold ornaments, Balaram was blamed for the theft. Balaram was greatly shocked at this and left Meherpur. After years of absence he returned to Meherpur with a few followers and turned his residence into an akhda.
Balaharis do not worship idols, and they recognise no caste distinctions. They are divided into two sub-sects: one group believe in family life; the other group are ascetics and do not marry. Balaharis are often considered to be a branch of Vaisnavites. Balaram composed a number of songs, which are sung by his followers as a part of their faith. Balaharis light candles at the akhda and perform certain rituals.
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