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Published in the 16-30 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

The Urs of Khuwaja Garib Nawaz 

By Syed Afzal Shah

Ajmer: The 792nd Urs of Garib Nawaz, the great Sufi Saint Khuwaja Moinuddin Chishti (RA) commenced with the sighting of the Rajab Chand corresponding to 17 Aug. 2004. The Jannati Darwaza was opened, as per the tradition, on the very first night of Rajab i.e., the 17th Aug. 2004. Also the Annual Urs Qawwali started in the Mahfil Khana under the patronage of Ziaul-Abedin, Diwan of the Shrine, the same night. Hundreds of thousands of devotees offered Friday prayer on 3rd Rajab. The Urs ended on the 6th Rajab corresponding to 23rd Aug. 2004 with the Qul ceremony. 

Among the arrangements to facilitate the visit by the pilgrims were three additional bus stands to accommodate 2500 buses which were expected to arrive during the Urs. Electricity, water and sanitation was undertaken by the UIT & Nagar Parishad, Ajmer on behalf of the Rajasthan government. Over five hundred thousand pilgrims attended the Urs which lasted for six days.
On this occasion, a delegation of 555 Pakistani devoties came from across the border after a gap of two years. The UTI Ajmer had a special Qawwali programme and felicitation programme at Jawahar Rang Manch in honour of the delegation led by Joint Secretary of the government of Pakistan. Chadars and flowers were offered by the delegation on the tomb of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz. Heads of governments and political parties presented Chadars on this occasion. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, president of AICC, sent her chadar which was brought by the AICC General Secretary Mr. Salman Khurshid, Mr. Mukul Vasnik and Shakeel Ahmad, the communications minister. The Prime Minister’s chadar was brought by Mr. Prithviraj Singh Chauhan and Mrs Girja Vyas. Among others who visited the shrine were the Delhi Chief Minister Mrs. Shiela Dikshit alongwith six of her cabinet collegues, and Mr. Madan Lal Khurana, governor of Rajasthan. A Chadar was brought on behalf of B.S. Shekhawat, vice president, and presented by his Khadim Mr. Abdul Bari Chsihti who is a member of Dargah Committee.

A seminar was held at the Imambara by the All India Qazi Forum. Another seminar was held at the Pushkar Road Bus Stand by the Dargah Committee and was compered by Jamia Millia’s Prof. Akhtarul Wasey who is a member of the Dargah committee.

According to Mr. Sarwar Chishti, secretary of Anjuman-e Syed Zadgan, the Anjuman Khuddam Saheb made arrangements for the pilgrims to stay. The Khuddam who hail from the family of Khwaja Fakhruddin Gardezi Chishti (RA) are the custodians of the holy shrine. They traditionally perform all the religious duties there. A special ghilaf and Sandal was put on the Mazar on 6th Rajab, the Qul day, and a Dua was made for the peace and prosperity of all people and the nation on that occasion. 
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