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A Centuries Old Sufi Tradition In Delhi That Takes Places Ahead Of Ajmer Urs

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| March 24 , 2018 , 15:38 IST

Phool Walon Ki Sair is not the only tradition which bears its origin from the medieval city of Mehrauli. A centuries-old tradition of ‘Chhadiyon Ka Mela’ traces its inception to Qutub Sharif Dargah in bylanes of Mehrauli. The tradition is an integral part of the annual Urs at the famous Sufi Saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (R.A) popularly known as Garib Nawaz of Ajmer Sharif.

For readers, I would briefly introduce the “Chistiya” order of Sufiism which is among the oldest Sufi Sect of the world which originated in Ajmer and flourished across the Indian subcontinent. The foremost saint (Pir-o-Murshid) of this order is Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer. After him, the Khilafat or spiritual mantle passed on to Khawaja Bakhtiyar Kaki, from him to Baba Farid Ganj Shakar to Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and then to Naseeruddin Chirag Dilli who became the last Khalifa of Chistiya Order.

The fortunate thing which is noteworthy here is that though Chistiya order originated in Ajmer, most of its prominent saints after Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti have resided and blessed the city of Delhi with their Immortal presence, barring Baba Farid who’s Dargah is in the district of Pak Pattan in Pakistan. Rest of the 3 saints have their divine presence in Delhi. Baba Bakhtiyar kaki in Mehrauli, Hazur Nizamuddin Auliya in Basti Nizamuddin and Khawaja Naseeruddin Chirag Dilli in the locality of Chirag Dilli.

Coming back to 'Chhadiyon ka Mela', it’s a 750 years old continuous tradition which started during the life of Baba Bakhtiyar Kaki. This event can also be called the prelude to the annual ‘Urs’ festival (anniversary of attaining union with the Almighty) of Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer. Disciples of the Sufi doctrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti start assembling at the Mehrauli Dargah of Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki and make-shift camps sprout all over the neighborhood of Mehrauli. The three days of assembly are marked with festivities and numerous Mehfil-e-Sama (Gathering of Sufi Musical Listening).

On the 3rd day, just after the early morning namaaz, a procession of devotees starts on foot for Ajmer Sharif carrying a flag tied to a stick (chhadi). This is the reason the festivities are called “Chhadiyon ka Mela”. Here chhadi signifies the flagstaffs.

The group begins the journey after paying homage at the Dargah of Khwaja Qutubudin Bakhtiyar Kaki. The group then visits the Auliya Masjid near Qutub Minar. It is said that Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Khwaja Qutub, and Baba Farid used to offer Namaz here.

After visiting the Auliya mosque and offering the afternoon prayer, the group starts its Pilgrimage to Ajmer Sharif and a distance of almost 400kms from Delhi is covered entirely on foot. On the 13th day just before the Urs of Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti, the Pilgrims reach Ajmer and present the “Holy Chaddar” to their revered Pir, Huzoor Garib Nawaz on behalf of all the disciples of Chistiya order including Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti’s beloved Khalifas like Baba Bakhiyar Kaki, Baba Farid, Khawaja Nizamuddin Auliya and Baba Naseerudin Chirag Dilli.

 

 

The Story behind Chaddiyon Ka Mela

The story goes back to King Iltumish’s reign. Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki was highly respected by the Sultan who himself was his devotee. Because of Khwaja Qutub’s popularity, some of the ministers in the court of King were against the Saint, they were jealous of Khwaja Qutub’s popularity among the populace. They made a secret plan to spoil his popularity. They gave money to a pregnant lady and convinced her to declare that the baby in her womb belonged to Khwaja Qutub. The lady agreed and soon a complaint reached to the court of King that Khwaja Qutub refuses to accept his baby. While Khwaja Qutub refused to accept her, he had no witnesses to support himself. He asked for time and eventually got his spiritual master Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in the open court along with a host of other highly revered Sufi saints. Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti raised his hands for Dua towards the sky and prayed. As per the legends, the baby started talking from the mother’s womb and pointed at the ministers who hatched the conspiracy.

While the case became clear and the Sultan apologized, a disheartened Khwaja Qutub decided to leave Delhi and accompany his master to Ajmer. When they started walking away, people of Delhi started following them in tears, begging Khwaja Qutub to return. Moved by the sight, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti told his disciple that he had no right to dishearten the people of Delhi, just because of a few mischief-makers. So Khwaja Qutub stayed on in Delhi but would travel to Ajmer every year with his followers carrying Chhadi’s. Khwaja Qutub stayed in Delhi till his last breath. Since that time this tradition is followed by most of the Sufi fakirs in India.

It is indeed a great honour for the ancient city of Delhi to be the final resting place of 3 great Sufi Saints and host to 3 prominent Sufi traditions namely Phool Walon Ki Sair, Chaddiyon ka Mela and Sufi Basant. After all, apart from being the National Capital, Delhi doubles up as the spiritual capital of India as well.