Urs Ajmer Sharif
The urs, acommomerative
celebration is held in the solemn memory of Khwaja Muin-nddin Chisti, a prighly
respected sufi saint fondly revered as the benefactor of the poor, popularly known
as Gareeb Nawaz. The Dargah Sharif in Ajmer, is the place where the Saints mortal
remains lie burried and is the site of the largest Muslim Fair in India.
Ghilaph & Neema which are votive offerings for the tomb are offered by several
hundred thousand devotees. Mehfils & Qawwalis are held and mass prayer calls
for the eternal peace of the mankind. An interesting ritual is the looting of
Kheer (Milk Pudding) which is cooked in two large cauldrons called Degs and distributed
to the devotees as tabarruk (blessed food).
The lakeside city of Ajmer
is located in central Rajasthan, and is held in great reverence by devotees of
all communities who call it 'Ajmer Sharif' (Holy Ajmer). It is here that the mortal
remains of the highly respected Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti lie buried.
Khwaja came from Persia and established the Chishtia order of fakirs in India.
He is popularly known as Gharib Nawaz (protector of the poor) because he dedicated
his entire life to the service of mankind. His spartan life spanned almost a hundred
years and he embraced death in solitude while he had withdrawn to his cell for
six days, asking not to be disturbed.
The Dargah Sharif in Ajmer is the
place where the Saint's mortal remains lie buried and is the site of the largest
Muslim fair in India. More than five lakh devotees belonging to different communities
gather from all parts of the subcontinent to pay homage to the Khwaja on his Urs
(death anniversary) during the first six days of Rajab (seventh month of the Islamic
The pilgrims who come to seek the blessings of the Khwaja make
rich offerings called nazrana at the holy spot where the saint has been entombed.
The offerings of rose and jasmine flowers, sandalwood paste, perfumes and incense
contribute to the fragrance that floats in the air inside the shrine. Also offered
by devotees are the chadar, ghilaph and neema, which are votive offerings for
These are brought by devotees on their heads and handed over
to the khadims inside the sanctum sanctorum. Outside the sanctum sanctorum of
the dargah, professional singers called qawwals in groups and sing the praises
of the saint in a characteristic high pitched voice. People gather around them
and listen attentively, sometimes clapping to the rhythm of their instruments.
Urs is initiated with the hoisting of a white flag on the dargah by the Sajjada
Nashin (successor representative) of Chishtis. It is done on the 25th of Jamadi-ul-Akhir
(sixth lunar month), with the accompaniment of music. On the last day of the sixth
month, the Jannati-Darwaza (gateway of heaven) is flung open early in the morning.
People cross this gate seven times with the belief that they will be assured a
place in heaven. On the 1st of Rajab, the tomb is washed with rose water and sandalwood
paste and anointed with perfumes. This ritual is called ghusal. The tomb is then
covered with an embroidered silk cloth by the Sajjada Nashin.
ritual is the looting of kheer (milk-pudding) which is cooked in two large cauldrons
called degs and distributed to the devotees as tabarruk (blessed food).
the 6th of Rajab, after the usual mehfil and the sound of cracker-bursts accompanied
by music, the Sajjada Nashin performs the ghusal of the tomb. Fatiha and Salamti
are read. A poetic recitation called mushaira is arranged in which poets of all
communities arrive to recite compositions dedicated to the Khwaja. The Qul (end-all)
on the 6th of Rajab marks the end of the Urs.
At night, religious assemblies
called mehfils are held in the mehfil-khana, a large hall meant for this purpose.
These are presided over by the Sajjada Nashin of the dargah.
sung and the hall is packed to capacity. There are separate places reserved for
women who attend the mehfil. The mehfil terminates late in the night with a mass
prayer for the eternal peace of the Khwaja in particular and mankind in general.
Dargah is located at the conjunction of three bazaars. There are a number of restaurants
around the Dargah where visitors can choose from a variety of dishes most of which
are non-vegetarian preparations. Guest houses on the road leading to the Dargah
offer accommodation that ranges from economical to luxurious. Many other guest
houses are strewn across the city. The shops in the market around the Dargah sell
flowers, prayer mats, rosaries, textiles, and general merchandise as well.
is 132 kms. south-west of Jaipur and 198 kms. east of Jodhpur. It is connected
by road to Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur and Kota. Ajmer is a railway junction
on the Delhi-Ahmedabad section of the Western Railway. During the Urs, special
buses ply from cities all over India carrying people to Ajmer and back.