Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Delhi Sufi shrines - a neglected lot

Bureau Report - The Hindu - New Delhi, India
Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sufi music concerts may run to packed houses, but many sufi shrines present a contrasting picture.

It is ironic that while so many people are enchanted by the music, few know about the Awliyas (Sufi saints) who find considerable mention in it, connoisseurs of Sufism say. Delhi is dotted with historic monuments including scores of 'mazaars'. There is the famous dargah of Nizamuddin and lesser-known mazaars of Bakhtiyar Kaki and Naseeruddin Mahmud Chiragh that co-exist. The latter two present a picture of neglect, they say.

There are still others, which are maintained by people who live around them oblivious of their history. "Chiragh's dargah has borne the brunt of urban living. Post-partition, ignorant settlers in the area marginalised the dargah. Today, it's in a poor state," says Sunil Kumar, Reader, Department of History, Delhi University.
"Bakhtiyar Kaki's tomb is in no better condition, he says. Known as Roshan 'Chirag-e-Dehli' - the illuminated lamp of Delhi, Chirag's name finds mention in many sufi renditions.

"In many places, the locals who maintain the 'mazaars' do not even know the name of the saint who is buried there, except for some miracles which are attributed to the saint," says Kumar.

On the other hand, there are also some shrines maintained by locals which witness regular prayer sessions; they are found to be in a good condition. Sufi dargahs are visited by both hindus and muslims: the maintenance of such mazaars and dargahs can be attributed to the intiatives of the local people.

"Most of Delhi's sufi shrines are tended by locals who stay in the vicinity. The absence of any governmental incentive doesn't deter them, because they see some mystic value in medieval shrines," says medieval historian SZH Jafferi of Delhi University.

The government should come forward and take affirmative steps for the restoration of these shrines, he says.

Delhiites need to be made aware of aspects of Sufism other than just the music. There is a lot more to the religion that can delight followers. For starters, Sufism welcomes into its fold, people of any caste, creed or religion, he says.

The need for preserving Delhi's Sufi historical wealth needs to be realised fast lest many symbols of the city's glorious past should fade away into oblivion, historians say.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is Sufism a religion?

Reema said...

Sufism is a feeling, a way of life, to connect with the almighty, it has a universal appeal...so lets not classfy it as religion but a culture

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Delhi Sufi shrines - a neglected lot
Bureau Report - The Hindu - New Delhi, India
Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sufi music concerts may run to packed houses, but many sufi shrines present a contrasting picture.

It is ironic that while so many people are enchanted by the music, few know about the Awliyas (Sufi saints) who find considerable mention in it, connoisseurs of Sufism say. Delhi is dotted with historic monuments including scores of 'mazaars'. There is the famous dargah of Nizamuddin and lesser-known mazaars of Bakhtiyar Kaki and Naseeruddin Mahmud Chiragh that co-exist. The latter two present a picture of neglect, they say.

There are still others, which are maintained by people who live around them oblivious of their history. "Chiragh's dargah has borne the brunt of urban living. Post-partition, ignorant settlers in the area marginalised the dargah. Today, it's in a poor state," says Sunil Kumar, Reader, Department of History, Delhi University.
"Bakhtiyar Kaki's tomb is in no better condition, he says. Known as Roshan 'Chirag-e-Dehli' - the illuminated lamp of Delhi, Chirag's name finds mention in many sufi renditions.

"In many places, the locals who maintain the 'mazaars' do not even know the name of the saint who is buried there, except for some miracles which are attributed to the saint," says Kumar.

On the other hand, there are also some shrines maintained by locals which witness regular prayer sessions; they are found to be in a good condition. Sufi dargahs are visited by both hindus and muslims: the maintenance of such mazaars and dargahs can be attributed to the intiatives of the local people.

"Most of Delhi's sufi shrines are tended by locals who stay in the vicinity. The absence of any governmental incentive doesn't deter them, because they see some mystic value in medieval shrines," says medieval historian SZH Jafferi of Delhi University.

The government should come forward and take affirmative steps for the restoration of these shrines, he says.

Delhiites need to be made aware of aspects of Sufism other than just the music. There is a lot more to the religion that can delight followers. For starters, Sufism welcomes into its fold, people of any caste, creed or religion, he says.

The need for preserving Delhi's Sufi historical wealth needs to be realised fast lest many symbols of the city's glorious past should fade away into oblivion, historians say.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is Sufism a religion?

Reema said...

Sufism is a feeling, a way of life, to connect with the almighty, it has a universal appeal...so lets not classfy it as religion but a culture