Elvis Ali Hazarika family is ready for Diwali to celebrate interfaith tradition

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 10-11-2023
Elvis Ali and his wife at kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam
Elvis Ali and his wife at kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam



Imtiaz Ahmed/Guwahati

Channel swimmer Elvis Ali Hazarika and his family are these days busy sprucing up their house in Guwahati. No, it’s not for any household occasion or Eid. It’s for Diwali, the festival of lights, on the weekend. Although not a follower of the Sanatana faith by birth, Elvis and his family celebrate every single religious festival of both Muslims as well as Hindus. Indeed, Elvis is equally a devout Muslim as well as a devotee of Goddess Kamakhya and Goddess Bagalamukhi, commonly known as Pitambari in North India, the goddess associated with the yellow or golden colour.

Elvis, who has swum across three major channels of the world – the English Channel, North Channel, and Catalina Channel – will this time be praying for the goddesses’ blessings to swim the English Channel three ways next year.

Born to an inter-faith marriage couple of Elban Ali Hazarika and Deepika Ali Hazarika, Elvis had a liberal upbringing that encouraged him to follow his own choice of faith. And, so is he giving an upbringing to his son Presly. The multiple record-holder swimmer also chose his life partner Pranami, hailing from a similar liberal Hindu family.

Elvis Ali Hazarika with his wife, mother and son on the occasion of Eid

“Yes, I am a Muslim by birth. And, follow all the teachings of the Prophet. I go to the mosque for prayers, go to the graveyard to pray for my dad, fast in Ramadan, pay charity to the needy, and follow all other Islamic rituals. But, at the same time, I respect Hinduism and believe there is a special power in the blessings of Goddess Kamakhya and Goddess Bagalamukhi. I pay obeisance at the temples. It gives me immense spiritual peace of mind and fulfillment,” Elvis told Awaz – The Voice. Both the goddesses are avatars of Goddess Durga.

“Similarly, my wife also fasts and we host iftar for the fasting Muslims during Ramadan. The imam of our mosque visits our residence every Friday to pray for our well-being and have lunch with our family. We also host naam (a Neo-Vaishnavite ritual) at our residence. I am giving the similar liberty of faith to my son Presly so that he can also grow up as humane as myself,” he added.

His mother and wife Pranami hail from the Neo-Vaishnavite cult that does not perform puja in front of idols. However, like Elvis, Pranami also pays obeisance at Kamakhya Temple and performs yagna at Bagalamukhi Temple.

Elvis Ali Hazarika with his wife, and son on the occasion of  Bihu

“What’s wrong in respecting or following two or even more faiths if you believe it is reasonable? After all, we are all human beings. Religion is just a way of life,” he said.

Asked if the society on either side of his family or his friend's circle object to his or his wife following both religions devotedly, Elvis said: “The society on both sides are very supportive of our way of life. However, a negligible portion of my friends sometimes pass negative comments about my belief in Hindu goddesses. But, that doesn’t matter to us. It’s my personal choice to be human.”

About his Diwali plans this time, the accomplished swimmer said: “Diwali is no longer a religious festival. It has become part of Indian culture. Almost every Indian irrespective of belief, caste, creed, etc revels in Diwali. It is a festival for every Indian. Almost all the Muslims and Christians of Assam in particular, celebrate Diwali. The festival of light gives fresh energy to our lives.”

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He, however, added that he also cares for the environment and, therefore, he is averse to fireworks and also appealed to the people to celebrate Diwali as a festival of lights, not a festival of crackers and smoke.

“I’ll certainly pay obeisance at the temple like I always do and celebrate the festival the most eco-friendly way,” Elvis added.