CULTURAL EVENTS OF INDIA – THE URS AT AJMER

One of the most revered among Muslim saints is Khwaja Mohinuddin Chisti. His tomb or dargah is located in Ajmer, in Rajasthan. It is the most popular Muslim shrine in India. The Urs of the saint is held for six days, from the first day of the Muslim month of Rajab. It attracts thousands of Muslims from all over the world, not to speak of Hindu pilgrims as well.

View of Dargah from outside

Mohinuddin was born in Afghanistan in 1135. He is believed to be a descendant of Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad. He learnt to recite the holy Koran at the age of nine. Even when he was young, he liked the company of holy men. He went on a pilgrimage to Medina in 1190.

While there, he had a vision of the prophet, who commanded him to proceed to Ajmer, then the capital of Prithviraj Chauhan. Mohinuddin reached there with his disciples and occupied a garden. It was where the camels in Prithviraj’s army rested at night. He objected to the presence of Mohinuddin and his disciples, but he refused to move away.

The camels as usual came and lay down in the night, but when morning came, they were unable to get up. Their keepers ran to Prithviraj, who then asked them to convey his apologies to the visiting holy man. The camels could now stand up and move!

People, rich and poor, flocked to Ajmer to listen to Mohinuddin. He passed away on the sixth day of Rajab in 1229. The dargah in Ajmer became an important pilgrim centre. It appears, even the Mughal emperors used to visit Ajmer during the Urs. During their visits, Akbar and son Jahangir donated two huge brass vessels to cook rice for distribution to the pilgrims. They are used in the shrine even today.

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