Located in the heart of Rajasthan, Ajmer is a small town. Ajmer is a popular pilgrimage center for Muslims as well as Hindus.
Ajmer Sharif is a shrine of the sufi saint, Moinuddin Chisti. The entrance gate of the Dargah is known as Buland Darwaza and it was constructed by Sultan Mahmood Khilji of the Malwa Sultanate. Every year in the month of April or May, an Urs is celebrated at Ajmer-e-Sharif. This religious festival is observed to mark the death anniversary of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti and the event is held over six days.
Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti is known by various names like Khawaja Gharib Nawaz, “Sultan-Ul-Hind”, Khwaja Baba, Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Ajmeri, Khwaja Sahib, Khwaja Ajmeri or Sant Moinuddin Chishty.
As a final resting place of this venerated Sufi Saint, muslims from different parts of the country as well as from all over the world come to the Dargah to pay obeisance. People of all religious faiths visit the Dargah and make offerings of rose and jasmine flowers to seek blessings from the Khawaja. Devotees visit the holy Dargah to pay homage during this occasion.
The main attraction of the Urs is the Kalanders known as the friends of Garib Nawaz. They come from different parts of the country and walk in the procession to celebrate the sacred festival. They also offer ‘chadars’ at the dargah of the saint. They perform bizarre stunts in the procession. Some of the Kalandars show street magic while others pop out their eyes with pointy knives.
Devotees who come to pay obeisance, bring chadars along with them. They go to Shahjahani Hauz and perform the sacred ritual of Wuzu with the holy water. Wuzu is the practice of washing oneself in Islam before each prayer or namaz. After the ritual they visit the dargah to offer their Chaddar. They pass through the Jannati Darwaza to get rid of their problems. It is said that those who are unable to visit Mecca, come to this dargah which is considered almost as holy.
The Shahjahani Mosque stands tall in the dargah premises, which is an outstanding piece of Mughal architecture. The mosque was built by Shah Jahan in memory of Hazrat Khwaza Moinuddin Chisty.
In the evening, before prayer, the ritual lighting takes place. Savants of the shrine bring lamps inside the tomb, accompanied by the beating of drums in the background. After the ritual, the lamps are placed in the four corners of the tomb.
Immediately after this ritual, the candle touching ceremony starts, in which savants of the dargah touch candles to each person’s head before offering it to the Khwaja. It is considered to be one of the most significant rituals of the Dargah.
After completion of all these rituals, the evening Namaz starts. Women are not allowed to do Namaz alongside men but have seperate section in which to pray.
Inside Dargah Sharif there are two big pots known as ‘Degs’ – the Badi Deg and the Choti deg. People put offerings of money, food items, clothes etc. in these degs.
One of the major attractions at the dargah are the qawwali programs organised during the famous annual Urs in the evenings. Sufi Qawwals from all over the country come to the Ajmer Urs and dedicate their Qawwali to Garib Nawaz.
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