Urs Festival of Ajmer Sharif is held in the
holy town of Ajmer in Rajasthan , India . The Urs Festival in
Ajmer , Rajasthan is marked with quwwallis - sung at night. The
celebrations the unite people of all faiths, and the complete
town is decorated with buntings and wears the spirit of festivity.
Urs Festival is an occasion for thousands of devout to congregate
at the shrine and offer their prayers. All of Ajmer seems to be
in a festive mood and several programmes are organised to mark
The Urs festival is considered as one of the
most sacred Muslim celebrations. In fact the Dargah at Ajmer is
considered to be the second most sacred pilgrimage after Mecca.
The six-day Urs festival recreates the memory
of those six days during which Khwaja Hasan Chisti retired to
his personal quarters for prayer and meditation till he breathed
his last. The Urs festival celebrations are inaugurated by Sajjada
Nashin, a descendant of the Chisti family.
The Sajjada Nashin hoists a pure white flag atop the Dargah dome
followed by the ghusal ritual during which the grave of the great
saint is washed with rose water and anointed with sandalwood paste,
ghee and incense. Pilgrims come from far and wide to pay homage
to their beloved saint and seek his blessings. Special poetry
recitation sessions are conducted in the Mehfil Khana located
within the Dargah premises. Pilgrims carry chadars, roses, jasmines,
gilaph and neema offerings on their heads to the door of the main
Dargah where these are handed over to khadims who offer these
to the saint's tomb. An important ritual that marks the Urs festival
celebrations is the cooking of the sacred kheer or milk pudding
that is later distributed to the devotees who throng the grave.
The best part of the Urs festival is that all the while devotees
come and go and the various rituals are being performed, a set
of musicians or Qawwals, sit on a raised platform outside the
dargah and sing devotional songs or Qawwalis. The final day of
Urs ends with the ghusal ceremony followed by Fatiha and Salamti
prayers, poetry competitions and bursting of firecrackers.
Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisti was a Persian
fakir who began the Chistia fakir sect in India and is considered
as the messenger of Allah by the Muslims.
This festival usually falls in the 6th month
of the lunar calendar.
Legends of the Festival:
The Urs, commemorative celebration is held in
the solemn memory of Khwaja Muin-nddin Chisti, a sprightly respected
Sufi saint fondly revered as the benefactor of the poor, popularly
known as Gareeb Nawaz. The Dargah Sharif in Ajmer is the place
where the Saints mortal remains lie buried and is the site of
the largest Muslim Fair in India.
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 disturbed.
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
Celebrations of the festival:
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 Sajjada Nashin then covers the tomb with an embroidered silk
An interesting ritual is the kheer 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. At night, attend the special poetry recitation
sessions (quwwallis), where professional singers sing their poems.
Mehfils are organized in the mehfil-khana within the Dargah premises.
See a brilliant display of fireworks. 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 mass prayer for the eternal peace of the Khwaja
in particular and mankind in general.
During Urs Ajmer, devotees bring chadars, gilaph,
neema, rose and jasmine flowers, incense and sandalwood paste
as offerings or ‘nazrana’.