Ajmer Urs of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti

The birth of a great being is a wonderful event because after taking birth he never leaves this world, even after death, when his physical body merges with the five-elemetns. In the awakened state when we are unable to see his physical body with our eyes, then what remains is the realization of God which he himself had attained and the experience of which he had given to many other people. This is very true of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti of Ajmer and that is why his Dargah becomes the venue of a big fair for the first six days of the Islamic month of Rajjab on the occasion of his Urs, death anniversy.

          Khwaja’s parents Syed Giasuddin Hasan and mother Bibi Mehnoor lived at village Sanjar in Sistan province of Iran, where Khwaja was born in 1143. After his birth, his parents went to live in Khursan and there he spent his childhood. His love for others and compassion were evident at a very early age. When he was three, he used to share his food with his friends. Once on the occasion of Eid, dressed in new clothes, he was going to pray, when on the way, he saw a blind boy in rags. Khwaja gave him his clothes and took him to the Idgah.  

          For twenty years, he served his ‘guru’ usman haruni. One day he got a divine order to go to India and serve the people there.

          Some historians say that he came to India via Lahore with Shahbuddin Gauri. After staying at Delhi for some time, he arrived in Ajmer, when he was 52. Others believe that he reached there during the reign of Prithvi Raj Chauhan. His extremely austere life and teachings of Sufism made him very popular with all sects of people in Ajmer and those who visited him. A disciple of his, Khwaja Kutubuddin, wrote that he had lived with the saint for twenty years but never heard him pray for his health. He always prayed for pain. Once when asked for the reason for doing so, he replied that pain gives rise to faith and a man becomes as pure as he is at his birth.

          One day in 1233, Khwaja told his disciples that was going to pray and meditate quietly in his small cell and nobody should disturb him. Saying this, he asked them to leave the place and then he shut himself up. After six days they were worried as Khwaja did not come out. On breaking the door open, they found that the great saint had left his mortal frame. As the exact date could not be ascertained, the Urs is celebrated during the first six days of the month of Rajjab.                                      

          A week before the start of Urs, the Gauri family of Bhilwara walks down to Ajmer with a flag which is hoisted at the 75 ft. high Buland Darwaza. Before the start of the Urs, the dried sandal paste that had deposited on the ‘mazar’ during the whole year is taken off. In anticipation of the siting of the moon which heralds the beginning of the big event, the Jannati Darwaza is opened. In the evening, in a fascinating ceremony the Kalandars offer a ‘chhadi’ at the shrine.

          The Kalandars, who are fakirs and not beggars, start from their respective places with their flags in groups and assemble at the Dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki at Mehrauli near Delhi 30-40 days before the Urs at Ajmer. Their loud slogans and keen desire to participate in the Urs is unique. Travelling 30-40 kms. a day they reach Ajmer in about a fortnight. They carry their own provision and cook their meal themselves. Due to their long walk, their feet naturally get hurt, but they do not take any treatment for their wounds. To forget their pain, they shout ‘Ya Khwaja’, ‘Ya Ali’.  They pray intensely and easily get into a state of ecstacy. After participating in the Urs, they go to the Dargah of their head Syed Natwan Shah Baba in Imam Bada to pay homage to him and spend some time praying there.                                                                          

          During the Urs, the timings of the services at the shrine are changed. At night ‘qawwalies’ are sung in the ‘mehfilkhana’. One can also see ‘qawwals’ singing in the praise of Khwaja at several places in theDargah. The six-day long ceremonies end with Qul when the whole of the shrine is washed with water.

          On the west of Buland Darwaza is a big cauldran called Deg presented by Akbar and on the east is a smaller one given by Jahangir. In the first one 37 quintal and in the other one 29 quintal ‘tabarruk’ (sanctified food) can be cooked. During the Urs, as also on some other important occasions, the pilgrims have an opportunity to get ‘tabarruk’, the rice cooked in these ‘degs’. In addition to this, the poor and the needy get free ‘langar’ (wheat and barley porridge) every day.

          Within the Dargah premises are a host of marvellous buildings built through the ages by nobles, kings and emperors which clearly show the esteem in which they held the spiritual master. The main entrance to the Dargah is through the gigantic 70 ft. high Nizam Darwaja built by Nizam Hyderabad Meer Usman Ali Khan during 1912-1915. Placed there are three ‘nagadas’, huge drums, presented by Emperor Akbar. Five times a

day people play on ‘Shehnai’ here. The 85 ft. high Buland Darwaza was built by Sultan Mehmood Khilji in 1455. On the right side is Akbari Masjid with a 56 ft. high arch. In 1570 A.D. Akbar built this structure in red stone. With a ‘nakkarkhana’ at the top, Shahjahan Darwaza was built by Shahajahan in 1638. Hauz Queen Mary was built by Queen Victoria during her visit here in 1911. The marble floored Sandali mosque built by Sultan Mehmood Khilji was later on renovated by Jahangir and Aurangzeb. At the place, Khwaja Saheb had offered ‘namaj’ for the first time here, was built the Aulia Masjid by K.B. Mohmad Bux. Loated towards the west of the main shrine is the Jannati Darwaza which is opened only four times in a year. It is considered to be a gateway to heaven.

          The grave of Khwaja Saheb remained ‘kachcha’ for about 250 years. It was built by Sultan Giasuddin as also the present dome. The ‘badshah’ of Mandav built the gate. Jahangir got made the golden railing inside the shrine and the silver one was an offering from princess Jahanara.

          Khwaja Saheb is also known by many other names each of which symbolizes one of his many virtues. One of them is Ata-e-Rasool which means a gift from the Pagamber Mohemmad Saheb. As he spread Sufism from Ajmer and resided there for a long time, he is also addressed as Khwaja-e-Ajmer. Being a King of India in the realm of spiritualism, he gets the title Sultan-e-Hind. Some other names that highlight the various aspects of his unique personality mean India’s saint and protector, the one who lives in divine bliss and showers blessings on everyone, the shelter of the destitute and a divine radiance.

          These qualities and many more endeared the great saint to people of all castes and creeds and attract them to his Urs in great numbers.

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