Festival : Introduction
Urs Festival of Ajmer Sharif is held in the holy town of Ajmer in Rajasthan ,
India . It is considered to be one of the most important festivals in the
Muslim calendar and is celebrated with great fervor all across Ajmer. 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. The
devotees also offer chadar, ghilaph and neema, which are votive offerings for
the tomb. These are brought by devotees on their heads and handed over to the
khadims inside the sanctum. Outside the sanctum of the dargah, professional
singers called qawwals sing qawallis in order to praise the deeds of their
saint. People gather around them and listen attentively, sometimes clapping to
the rhythm of their instruments.
The 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.
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.Qawwalis are 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.
An important ritual that marks the Urs festival celebrations is the cooking of
the sacred kheer or milk pudding that is later distributed to the devotees who
throng the grave. On 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 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. Guesthouses on the road leading to the Dargah offer
accommodation that ranges from economical to luxurious.
History Of Urs