When In­dia met the world

Cel­e­brat­ing the birth an­niver­sary of Hazrat Niza­mud­din Auliya — the saint who trans­formed the Sufi move­ment

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - City - - LIFESTYLE - Na­banita Das

The 11th edi­tion of Delhi International Arts Fes­ti­val (DIAF) kicked off with the open­ing cer­e­mony on Satur­day. Brav­ing the smoggy weather, Cap­i­tal’s art af­fi­ciona­dos en­joyed a per­for­mance by In­dian clas­si­cal dancers on the song Vande Mataram along with per­for­mances from coun­tries such as Rus­sia and Egypt.

In an unas­sum­ing neigh­bour­hood of Delhi, filled with aro­mas of ke­babs, flanked by shanty houses of Niza­mud­din basti and an 800year-old mosque (be­lieved to be built by em­peror Alaud­din Khilji), stands the mau­soleum of Sufi saint Hazrat Niza­mud­din Auliya, the struc­ture that em­bod­ies a part of Cap­i­tal’s his­tory. And to­day, as we cel­e­brate the 803rd birth an­niver­sary of one of the most fa­mous Sufi saints of the Chishti or­der in the In­dian sub-con­ti­nent, we take you on a jour­ney through the lanes of chaadar sellers, and fakirs. “We cel­e­brate the day with great de­vo­tion. The qawwali pro­gramme will be­gin at 8pm and go on till 5.30am. Amir Khus­rau’s kalaams will be sung too,” in­forms Syed Afsar Ali Nizami, chief in charge, Dar­gah Sharif, adding, “At night, we will or­gan­ise a lan­gar with veg­e­tar­ian and non veg­e­tar­ian dishes. At 1am, the mazaar sharif (the burial place) will be opened by the saint’s fam­ily for dec­o­ra­tion, shielded from out­side view. We wash the dar­bar with kewda (flower essence) and sprin­kle at­tar (per­fumes) on it. Then, we smear san­dal­wood paste and fi­nally of­fer a chaadar. And, af­ter the morn­ing na­maaz (fajr), dis­ci­ples can of­fer flow­ers and chaadars.” Hazrat Niza­mud­din Auliya, prop­a­gated love and re­li­gious plu­ral­ism. And his shrine too at­tracts peo­ple from all faiths, age groups and so­cial statures. “He never dif­fer­en­ti­ated. He pro­moted the mes­sage of broth­er­hood and peace,” says Afsar Nizami, the 38th gen­er­a­tion mem­ber of Hazrat Niza­mud­din Auliya’s fam­ily, in­form­ing that ev­ery Fri­day, a Dubai-based Hindu fam­ily sends lan­gar to be dis­trib­uted at the dar­gah. As we con­verse with Nizami, the qawwals take po­si­tion to be­gin the mu­si­cal as­sem­bly. “Qawwalis have al­ways been an in­te­gral part of Su­fism, which be­came com­mon­place with the khan­qah (spir­i­tual re­treat) of Hazrat Niza­mud­din Auliya. Khus­rau is ac­knowl­edged as the first poet of Urdu. He cre­ated songs that add nov­elty to the mu­si­cal as­sem­blies of Hazrat Niza­mud­din Auliya. All Chishtis were com­mit­ted to mu­sic as it be­lieved to be the source of reach­ing spir­i­tual ec­stasy,” says Sa­dia Dehlvi, au­thor of The Sufi Court­yard: Dar­gahs of Delhi, adding, “The Cap­i­tal’s Sufi land­scape un­der­went a ma­jor trans­for­ma­tion with his pres­ence, cre­at­ing a last­ing im­pact on his­tory.”

Agne Sakalauskaite Hatem El Sayed Tageldin

PHO­TOS: RAAJESSH KASHYAP/HT

A per­for­mance at the event

Aruna Va­sudev

Prathibha Prahlad

Chung Kwang Tien

(Top) Aazam Nizami Qawwal and Am­jad Nizami Qawwal; (Above) Devo­tees light in­cense sticks at the Dar­gah

PHO­TOS: SHIVAM SAX­ENA/HT

Arched en­trance (above) and (be­low) the court­yard at the Niza­mud­din Dar­gah

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