Unity Lies Here: Sufi Muslims Celebrate Vasant Panchami

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Priyanka Dutta, New Delhi: India is really a unified country. You find people from different religion and class in India. But the fact that they all live the same lifestyle is what unifies them. Before becoming a British empire India already was a nation where common people lived together in unity. Only the rulers of different dynasties created the difference….for example Aurangzeb.

India’s survival as a united country for 70 years defying negative Western prophecies is a “miracle” and its success as a democracy is “remarkable”, historian-author Ramachandra Guha has said.

Yes, this story is about something different which you love to read. As today is Vasant Panchami and the country was busy for worshipping The Goddess Of Knowledge, a Dargah has also celebrated the Puja and broke the barrier of caste division.

Vasnat Panchami is being celebrated at Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah in the National Capital. Why is Vasant Panchami celebrated at Nizamudin Dargah? There is a legend behind this. Every year as winter makes way for Delhi’s brief spring, celebrations in the form of Sufi Basant or Basant Panchami begins at the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.

All Chishti dargahs in India, including Ajmer, celebrate Sufi Basant. The festival dates back to the 12th century when poet Amir Khusrow dedicated songs of spring to Nizamuddin Auliya, his spiritual guide.

Hazrat Nizamuddin did not have children but was deeply attached to his sister’s son, Khwaja Taqiuddin Nuh. But an illness took Khwaja Nuh away from this world, which immensely saddened the saint, who grieved over the loss for a long time.

His followers, particularly Hazrat Amir Khusrau, longed to see him smile once again.One day, Khusrau saw a group of village women dressed in yellow, carrying mustard flowers and singing on the road near the Khwaja’s chilla-khanqah, a retreat where he had spent his life reaching out to people, which is located behindHumayun’s tomb.

Khusrau asked the women where they were going dressed like this. The women replied that they were going to the temple to offer flowers to their god. Khusrau then asked them whether this would make their god happy. When they said it would, Khusrau immediately dressed up in a yellow saree, and carrying mustard flowers, went before the saint singing sakal ban phool rahi sarson.

Recognising his favourite disciple and amused by his costume and song, the saint finally broke into a smile. This was commemorated as an occasion for rejoicing, and since then his followers have celebrated the onset of Basant by dressing up in yellow, carrying mustard flowers and singing qawwali.

In the meantime Goddess Saraswati, regarded as the Hindu deity of music, culture and learning, was worshiped across West Bengal with traditional pomp and gaiety on Monday.

Women and girls decked up in traditional bright-yellow saris signifying Basant Panchami — heralding the arrival of spring — and men and boys in kurtas offered flowers to the deity, as families shared “prasad” in cities, towns and villages.

It was a day of mirth for children, for whom Saraswati puja is a “no study” day. Too happy to give their textbooks a miss, they participated in cultural functions organised in localities, educational institutes and households.

Clay idols of the goddess were seen with a crescent moon on the brow, riding a swan or seated on a lotus with flowers, fruits and sweets placed as offerings before it.

The rituals started early morning and continued till midday in schools, colleges, community clubs and households, with priests chanting mantras and devotees placing seasonal palash flowers at the deity’s feet to the ringing sounds of cymbals and conch shells.

To receive the goddess’s blessings, students also placed their books, pens and musical instruments beside the idol for the entire day.

Small marquees came up in almost all localities where neighbours gathered to pay obeisance to the goddess, followed by sumptuous lunch comprising “khichuri” — a mixture of rice and lentils, with potato and cauliflower added for taste — accompanied by eggplant fries, mixed vegetables and dollops of chutney and sweets. Such feasts were held in educational institutions also.

Concluding with this hope that – May God Give the strength to this developing Nation to lead the path of National tolerence and unity.

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