R a j a s t h a n
F a i r s & F e s t i v a l s
URS Fair Ajmer - E - Sharif
Urs of Sufi Saint Khwaja - Moin - Ud - Din
The First Six Days of Rajab
The lakeside city of Ajmer is located in central
Rajasthan, and is held in great reverence by devotees of all communities
who call it 'Ajmer Sharif' (Holy Ajmer). It is here that the mortal
remains of the highly respected Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti lie
buried. The Khwaja came from Persia and established the Chishtia order of
'fakirs' in India. He is popularly known as 'Gharib Nawaz' (protector of
the poor) because he dedicated his entire life to the service of mankind.
His spartan life spanned almost a hundred years and he embraced death in
solitude while he had withdrawn to his cell for six days, asking not to be
The Dargah Sharif in Ajmer is the place where
the Saint's mortal remains lie buried and is the site of the largest
Muslim fair in India. More than five lakh devotees belonging to different
communities gather from all parts of the subcontinent to pay homage to the
Khwaja on his Urs (death anniversary) during the first six days of 'Rajab'
(seventh month of the Islamic calendar.)
The pilgrims who come to seek the blessings of
the Khwaja make rich offerings called 'nazrana' at the holy spot where the
saint has been entombed. The offerings of rose and jasmine flowers,
sandalwood paste, perfumes and incense contribute to the fragrance that
floats in the air inside the shrine. Cash offerings are also made. Also
offered by devotees are the 'chadar', 'ghilaph' and 'neema', which are
votive offerings for the tomb. These are brought by devotees on their
heads and handed over to the 'khadims' inside the sanctum sanctorum.
Outside the sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah,
professional singers called 'qawwals' sit in groups and sing the praises
of the saint in a characteristic high pitched voice. People gather around
them and listen attentively, sometimes clapping to the rhythm of their
instruments. Cash is also offered in appreciation of noteworthy stanzas to
the qawwals. On the steps leading to the main gate, 'fakirs' can be seen
begging for alms in the name of the Khwaja. Their cries generally do not
go in vain, as the devotees feel happy to help the needy, in the tradition
of Khwaja Gharib Nawaj.
The Urs is initiated with the
hoisting of a white flag on the dargah by the Sajjada Nashin (successor
representative) of Chishtis. It is done on the 25th of Jamadi-ul-Akhir
(sixth lunar month), with the accompaniment of music. On the last day of
the sixth month, the 'Jannati-Darwaza' (gateway of heaven) is flung open
early in the morning. People cross this gate seven times with the belief
that they will be assured a place in heaven. On the 1st of Rajab, the tomb
is washed with rose water and sandalwood paste and anointed with perfumes.
This ritual is called 'ghusal'. The tomb is then covered with an
embroidered silk cloth by the Sajjada Nashin.
At night, religious assemblies called 'mehfils'
are held in the 'mehfil khana', a large hall meant for this purpose. These
are presided over by the Sajjada Nashin of the darg.
Qawwalis are sung and the hall is packed to
capacity. There are separate places reserved for women who attend the 'mehfil'.
The 'mehfil' terminates late in the night with a 'fatiha', which is a mass
prayer for the eternal peace of the Khwaja in particular and mankind in
general. An interesting ritual is the looting of 'kheer' (milk- pudding),
which is cooked in two large cauldrons called 'degs' and distributed to
the devotees as 'tabarruk' (blessed food).
On the 6th of Rajab, after the usual 'mehfil'
and the sound of cracker-bursts accompanied by music; the Sajjada Nashin
performs the ghusal of the tomb. Fatiha and Salamti are read. A poetic
recitation called 'mushaira' is arranged in which poets of all communities
arrive to recite compositions dedicated to the Khwaja. The Qul (end-all)
on the 6th of Rajab marks the end of the Urs.
The dargah is located at the conjunction of three bazaars. There are a
number of restaurants around the dargah where visitors can choose from a
variety of dishes most of which are non-vegetarian preparations. Guest
houses on the road leading to the Dargah offer accommodation that ranges
from economical to luxurious. Many other guest houses are strewn across
the city. The shops in the market around the Dargah sell flowers, prayer
mats, rosaries, textiles, and general merchandise as well.
Members of all communities have access to the
dargah. It is compulsory to remove the shoes, before entering, at the main
gate. Within the dargah premises, the head of the pilgrim should be
covered at all times. Many visitors engage the services of Mujavirs who
take their patrons around the dargah, fetch them 'tabarruk' and are duly
Apart from the dargah, the visitors go to see the Adhai din-ka Jhonpra
(two-and-a-half-day hut) which is a mosque noted for its ornate
calligraphic inscriptions on the arches and walls.
People also climb up the hill of Taragarh to pay homage at the shrine of
Miran Sayyed Hussain, the first Muslim Governor of the hill fort.
Festival Tour Packages
Mewar Festival Rajasthan
14 Nights & 15 Days
Destination Covered :
Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Pushkar, Ajmer, Delhi.
Camel Fair Pushkar
Duration : 20 Nights & 21 Days
Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Ranthambore, Kota,
Bundi, Chittaurgarh, Bijaipur, Udaipur, Khumbalgarh, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer,
Bikaner, Mandawa, Delhi.
Desert Fair Jaisalmer
Duration :14 Nights & 15 Days
Destination Covered :
Delhi, Mandawa, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur,
Pushkar, Ajmer, Delhi.