Update: Click here for our new video blog showcasing the Dargaah complex!
Hazrat Nizamuddin and Amir Khusro’s dargahs, New Delhi, INDIA
2:30 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. (IST)
18 July 2010, Sunday
Here’s a blog of what all I observed as I visited the place that day.
Just relax and read on – as I try to take you to that place – in that time ..through this blog 🙂
Wiping the sweat off his face, a pull-cart shopkeeper suggests us to go straight down the lane when asked about the way to the dargah.
The street is becoming narrower and more congested as we are going deeper towards the destination.
There are so many smalltime vendors selling flowers, chaadars and other religious offerings for the dargah.
The sophisticated “urdu” dominates most of the interactions going on amongst the people on the way. “Aisa mat kar zaalim. Bahut zulm kiya toonay. Aisa mat kar..” expresses a shopkeeper loudly but politely, as his polybag supplier confesses that he ran short of one kind of polybags.
The “reps” of the restaurant out there are standing outside their shops, with a few paper cards in their hands, and are just yelling at us “Garibon ko khana khilaiyega saab?”. The paper cards have “Rs.10” written on them along with the name of the shop to which they are associated to.
These guys, not sure if they are chappal waalas or phool and chaadar waalas, but they are shouting at us – “saab, yahaan rakhiye chappal. Chadar nahee le jaeinge baba ke liye?” We’ve stopped at one of the phool wallas and he has just asked us to submit the chappals at the small counter at his shop. And all of a sudden all the nearby chappal-walaas have started calling out loudly and playfully, “oye..oye..yahaan rakhiye mam…oye”.
“Our” chappal-wala just reassures us that “kuchh nahee sir..aap rakhiye chappal neeche. Chadar le jaao..andar chadhaani hotee hai”. We’ve now submitted the chappals to this guy and suddenly all the other shop wallas withdrew all their attention from us to other potential customers.
This guy now gestures us to wash our hands, feet and face at one of the nearby taps. As my friend moves to one of the taps, the shopkeeper says, “madam ye wala…ye humara paani hai..vo to kisi aur ka hai”, pointing out to a tap on his right hand side.
Our chappal waala then says, “200 waali ye hai..aur 500 waali bhi hai..700 waali bhi..apni apni baat hai”, when asked about which chadar to go for. “Phool le lo..ittr bhi pesh karna hota hai saath mein”, he then says. He also advices “do dargaah hain..dono ke liye ye sab le lijiye” ; it is ‘affordable’ too… so we do as he suggests.
Now equipped with two sets of offerings we move ahead as people ‘watch’ us occasionally, probably little extra-curiously because of the big bindi of one of my friends and my sun-glasses perhaps!!
As we enter the main dargah area, there is this tall gentleman in an all white kurta pyjama, gesturing us to come closer to the ‘smaller’ dargah and enter from the small gate on the left. As we move forward we see a board that indicates that this is the dargah of Amir Khusro. As we reach closer, the guy reassures this fact and also tells us that we need to go to this dargah first, make the offerings, and then move to the Hazrat Nizam’s dargah, which is bigger and towards the right.
There’s a small board just at the entrance of the shrine and it reads “nangay sar andar aanaa manaa hai”. Another decently dressed up man peeps out from the window and gestures us to get in fast seeing the packed up crowd outside. He lets us take some time to cover our heads. The men either have skull-caps or use a handkerchief to cover their heads. Women have covered their heads with a scarf or dupatta accordingly.
As we enter, a few more young men, again dressed up in all white, come to “help” us and they also give us a quick intro of the place. One of them asks me to take one of the sets of chadar-phool-ittr in to the main shrine inside. He also appraises my friend that she can’t go inside as women are not allowed in there, but she can look in from the boundary walls that had appropriate openings to see through it.
Once inside the main shrine there’s a constant push and a public announcement “chalte rahiye bhaai aagay. Apnay purse aur mobile ka dhyaan rakhein. Chalo bhaai jaldi. Jaldi jaldi kariye”.
Seeing me a little amused one of those men who met us at the gate comes to help me out. He says “pehle chadar pesh kariye”. He takes the basket of flowers from my hands to help me as I pick the chadar from it and try to spread it on the pious structure. Two guys on the other side hold the other end of the chadar and help me spread the chadar properly on the marble structure – under which lay the great saint and artiste – Amir Khusro.
Then again that call – “chalte rahiye bhai. Apnay purse aur mobile ka dhyaan rakhein.”
The guy who was helping me with all this says – “Ab phool aur ittr pesh kariye chadar pe.. jaldi kariye” – and I do the needful.
People walked around the mazaar, offering chadar – flowers and ittr – rose petals and other flower bits are getting crushed under the feet leaving their essence and a moist spot on the marble floor as well as the “skins”.
Walking around I see a small agarbatti stand in the way and a donation box – as the air suddenly seems to be fragrant. Someone has just sprinkled his ittr offerings on the mazaar.
Outside the mazaar the same group of men, dressed up in white, have now come to us with a big diary in hand and they note my contact details for future correspondence. They now suggest me to enter an amount that I wish to donate – there were 5 donation heads written in their diary- one for feeding the poor, one for school for the children, two for the contributing to the funds for the upkeep of the two mazaars and another one for another kind of community service. I am more curious to reach out to the other place now.
After the needful is done, on the way out from this room the man who helped us in is seen again. He now takes us to the Nizam’s mazaar and, on the way, tells us about a few historical facts about the place and the people buried under the two main mazaar’s and some more similar less-attended structures – one of them being that of the queen Jahaan Aara.
This man is speaking in a loud and clear tone whenever he’s telling about the historical and spiritual significance of this place.
On the way to the main dargaah of the Nizaam, is a small staircase that leads to a decently sized open area where many people are sitting and there’s also a group of small time qawwals singing out loud. Near this staircase there’s a board that says, “yahaan binaa ijaazat baithna manaa hai”, and two beggar women are sitting and chatting right beneath this board.
Down the staircase and into the verandah the qawwalis are now heard clearer. One of the baby qawwals is just shouting out the lines at the top of his voice – constantly pumping the mini harmonium equally hard.
Inside the main dargaah, yet again, my friend is not allowed inside. A similar sequence of events follow as at Amir Khusro’s dargaah. But this time it is a slightly bigger room, but with a much bigger crowd.
As the circumvention completes, some men are leaning over the steel rods around the mazaar trying to kiss the one of the offered chadars. Pointing out to a separate chadar hanging from the top, one of the service men just shouts at these guys “ye nahee dikh rahee kya? isay choom lo bhai. Yahaan ruk gae aap – aur bheed ho rahee hai. Chalo”.
Outside this mazaar, on the right hand side as we move out, there’s a mosque. Moving towards a mosque a group of people are seen peeping inside the iron gates that led to another open area. Moving closer it was seen that a kind of ‘langar for the poor’ was going on in there, as few men served food to the many men and women sitting there. The people outside were waiting for their “seating” as that floor was already full.
Next to this is a mosque in which a few men and children are just sitting and chatting. At one corner of the hall few men, probably in mid 40s, and a few younger ones, probably their children, are hand-picking some beads and pebbles from a heap of the same, and setting them aside. These pebbles are similar to those which Rizvan (Shah Rukh Khan’s screen character in the movie “My Name Is Khan”) occasionally takes out from his pocket! The mosque felt just like a big temple minus the idols.
We are now at the open white marble floor outside the mosque and the feet are just burning due to the heated floor. Green and golden are prominently visible around the place.
The “helpful guy” is seen again – the one who guided us to the two dargahs. He smiles at us and presents his visiting card to us. He proudly shows the word “Nizami” on it and emphasizes that “hum Hazrat Nizam ke khandaan se hain. Unhone shaadi nahee kee thhe. Hum, unki jo sister theen, unke khandan se hain”. He again mentioned “aur koi ‘Nizami’ nahee likh sakta. Sirf direct khandan waalay..ya kuchh mureed log hotay hain. ‘Mureed’ to samajhtay hee honge aap!” He offers further help by saying “dobara aana ho to aap phone kar ke bhi aa sakte hain. Nahee to yahaan keh dijiyega ‘Nizami ji se baat hui thee’.”
We ask him if we can take photos and videos when we come here again and if someone can help us know more about the place, the history etc. Mr. Nizami reassures “phone kar dijiyega..ab to aapsay pehchaan ho gayee hai.. hum bataaeinge aapko yahaan ke baaray mein sab. Video banaaiyega..andar bhi le jaaeinge. Koi aisee baat nahee hai”. We’ve thanked him for the help and are now moving on to explore the basti outside…tracing the same path again where we came from.
There are quite a few pull-cart eating joints on the streets, some of them selling biryani. There’s a meet shop out there and seeing it me and my friend just have a quick word about our eating habits and preferences (veg/non-veg) and how raw beef and beef-shops smell “really yukk”!
There’s this bookshop in the cluttered market area near the dargah. Besides religious books, the shop also sells goodies like flower essences, religious discourses on VCDs and much interestingly “games” based on Islamic religious scriptures. One such game-box reads “The Ultimate Quran Challenge!!”. Suddenly, there’s a sparking sound heard outside the shop and the crowd, esp women around, just scream and run for safety. The furious sparking calms down soon as the electric cable has now burnt down to ashes completely.
We spend some time in the basti and the market nearby as we wait to witness the evening namaaz.
The sun is now pacified and calmer than how it was earlier. We are tired too. We re-enter the dargaah area. The floor on the left, that seemed filthy earlier, looks like a big relief – now that we are exhausted. We just drive the flies away and sit there – chatting, watching the proceedings, driving away the flies and waiting for the namaaz time.
There’s this guy carrying a huge hand-held fan. He is just roaming around the smaller dargaah, stopping every now and then near bunches of people, and waving the fan at them occasionally. The people receiving his services look much relieved due to this sudden and unexpected man-made breeze!
The fan waala suddenly stops near us and serves us some breeze too! We exchange some grateful glances with him as he moves away to another bunch of people.
Amongst the many people who are here, there’s a family of four – a man in mid 40s, his wife and their adolescent children – a boy and a girl. They are dressed up decently and seem to be new to the place. The rest of the family looks here and there as the father just checks something with the “helpful” set of kurta-pyjama clad men.
A shabbily dressed “neurotic kind of” guy is shouting, unexpectedly in English, at the guy sitting inside the admin room – “You all just keep talking on phone. You are of no use really”. Looking much like the beggars sitting nearby, the same guy now turns to face these beggars and yells, not in English this time, “utho ab. doosre bhikhariyon ko jagah do idhar.”
An old man, sort of scolds my friend, as he asks her for alms – “de de gareeb ko..sab ameer ho gaye hain.. de de..aur badhega..de de”. And we move away, a little faster than usual, from there!
Another family is now seen – not as decently dressed up as the earlier one. One thing peculiar about this family is a man with a huge built up. He is wearing a shabby kurta-pyjama and has big gold studs in his earlobes. His body language is somewhat girlish and probably this is why many people are looking at him with much curiosity.
Far behind the smaller dargah there’s a boundary wall. There’s a cat sitting majestically on this wall. S/he gets up every now and then and takes an occasional stroll on the wall. As she walks, her shoulders move up and down prominently and she looks more like a mini-tiger.
It’s 5:40 p.m. now and we start moving towards the mosque, for the namaaz. Inside the mosque men have started gathering now. Two old men sit near us. They look at us, of and on, and then chat amongst themselves – it seems as if it is about us!
“Allaaahh….” resonates a voice as a young boy says the azaan out and loud on the microphone placed near the central wall of the mosque – this is right in front of the main entrance at the other end of the structure. The namaaz proceedings happen now.
After the namaaz we are now sitting inside only for a few more moments. One of the old men sitting close to us glances at one of us and asks “yahaan pehle aae ho?..kya naam hai beta?” – to which my friend responds, “Sankalp”. The old man repeats “Shankar!!” before my friend could say anything further. Probably the old man couldn’t hear properly. “Hinduaana naam lagta hai. Hindu ho kya?”, he then asks as my friend nods affirmatively. The old man then says “yahaan…. namaaz padhne aatay ho..kaise?” , to which my friend says “aise hee, achhaa lagta hai” with a smile. The old man gives a broader smile and gives a pat on my friend’s back. We then decide to move out.
The sun is nowhere to be seen above now. It’s cooler and little darker now. Tired and exhausted, we are just dragging our way out into the moribund narrow gullies.
Update: Click here for our new video blog showcasing the Dargaah complex!