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‘Urs celebrations in Ajmer, India.

My wife, and I have travelled to Ajmer to be present at the ‘urs (death anniversary) of our shaykh who expired in 1996. The ‘urs celebration took place on two days, the 26th and 27th of February. The dates are different each year as they are based on the Islamic calendar.

Most of the activities took place at the chillah, a hill with the cave wherein Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti performed his retreats. After the qul, the closing ceremony, there was a function which started at about 22.00 P.M. at the dargah of Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti. About 40 people then walked two times round the shrine of Gharib Nawaz (The Patron of the Poor) as he is also known. Then we sat down at the place where my shaykh always sat. Forty people, sitting silently, in a very peaceful dargah…

The program thereafter started with an innovation. A musician from Israel played the flute in the classical Indian style. A revolution, because as far as I know, this has never happened on the dargah complex. The khadims (they are the descendants of the travellers who arrived so many centuries ago in the company of Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti in Ajmer) reacted by presenting some rupees to the musician to show their appreciation. After this peaceful and beautiful start the qawwals, the Sufi singers of Ajmer had their turn and for about an hour we listened to them. In silence we returned to our Sufi khaneqah.

On the first day the ‘urs consisted of music by two Israelian musicians, by a free kitchen wherein hundreds of people took food, by qawwalli music, by recitation of classical urdu poetry in the honour of the prophet, by recitation of Quranic verses and by reciting the silsila, the line of succession in our order from one shaykh to the other ending with the name of our shaykh.

On the Sufi Saint School (a school for the poorest of the poor in Ajmer which is open to all religions) the children had a program of their own. On stage they sang, danced, showed traditional costumes, etc. At a certain moment you saw a boy dressed as a monkey with a big tail coming up the stage who sat down covering his eyes. Another ‘monkey’ covered his ears and the third one his mouth: “See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil”. Our fun however increased as the monkey who saw no evil did not see the others leave when their performance had ended and remained sitting on his own on the stage covering his eyes…

It is strange as today it snowed in Holland, while yesterday we enjoyed pleasant temperatures of about 25 degrees Celsius. Today we saw orderly traffic, while yesterday we were in the chaos of India. If you have not been in India it will be difficult to imagine what you see on the streets. When making a walk you see amazing things. However I would advice you to go to India only with a definite purpose and with an introduction as there are many negative things to be told about it as well, which I have omitted from this account.

The thing that made our stay worthwhile was the loving atmosphere among the mureeds of our order. Such things you rarely find in everyday life. For me there was however one short moment, which was the best of all. We said goodbye at the station to a certain disciple at the station who left for Delhi. He took me apart and said that he had waited for five years to meet me for the first time as our murshid had made a remark about me to him. He then repeated what our shaykh had said and it was impossible to remain unmoved when such a loving message from my shaykh reached me as if from across the grave…

We travelled to Delhi and visited the dargah of Nizamuddin Awliya by first going to the shrine of his most beloved disciple Amir Khusraw. Thereafter we went to the dargah of Hazrat ‘Inayat Khan. This is a very beautiful building. Near the shrine, but still inside the building a tree is growing. There is an opening in the roof allowing the tree to grow out of the building. No one was there, except for Hazrat ‘Inayat Khan who waited for us. We said goodbye to India, hoping to return one day.

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