Ajmer, July 7 : Thousands of devotees converged at the revered Ajmer Sharif shrine in Rajasthan on Sunday to offer prayers on the occasion of 796th Urs of Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chishti, the Sufi saint.
"Urs"marks the death anniversary of Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chishti who is popularly called "Garib Nawaz", or the "Messiah of the poor. This year the six-day ceremony started on Friday (June 5).
Residents, on this occasion, bedeck the lanes leading to the shrine with colourful decorations.
Devotees queue up in front of hundreds of small shops selling the "Chadar" or the holy spread that is laid over the mausoleum of Sufi saint as an offering.
Both Hindus and Muslims throng the shrine in large numbers with a belief that all their wishes would be realized by praying at the famous shrine that is also a symbol of communal harmony.
"My family has been coming here for past many years. We can experience the presence of some mystic powers at this shrine which draws us to this shrine," said Kalpesh, a Hindu devotee.
An estimated a million devotees from India and abroad visit the saint's shrine during the six-day long Urs. The shrine also attracts devotees from neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh.
"Whatever we ask for from our heart is fulfilled, that is why people come here from far off places to get their wishes fulfilled," said Zahid Hussain, a devotee from Bangladesh.
Through the fair, devotional music and reciting from the saint Chisti's own works and other Sufis are presented in traditional Qawali style and sung in chorus.
The annual event culminates with readings from the holy Quran and special prayers.
The annual gathering is considered to be second largest congregation of Muslims at one place after Mecca.
Legend has that in 1236 A.D, the saint had entered his cell to pray in seclusion for six days, at the end of which he died. Since then, Urs is celebrated for six days every year.
Chishti, some historian have recorded, came to India after a dream in which the Holy Prophet asked him to do so and eventually settled in the tiny town of Ajmer, where his firm faith in the unity of human beings and equality won him reverence amid the common people.
It was in Ajmer that he laid the foundations of the Chishtiyya order, which interprets religion in terms of human services and lays stress of the renunciation of material goods, self-discipline and generosity to others. By Lokender Singh