Monday, April 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Sheikh Zainuddin’s Urs celebrated
Tribune News Service

A view of a torchlight procession by villagers
A view of a torchlight procession by villagers in south Kashmir at the shrine of a Muslim saint, Sheikh Zainuddin Wali, in Aishmuqqam, on Saturday. The farming community in south Kashmir celebrates the festival of lights, marking the beginning of the agricultural season. 

Kashmiri folk dancers perform the traditional dance
Kashmiri folk dancers perform the traditional dance called "Dambali." — Photos Amin War

Kashmiri villagers hold torches
Kashmiri villagers hold torches during the annual festival in memory of a Muslim saint, Sheikh Zainuddin Wali. —Reuters photo

Srinagar, April 28
The annual Urs of Sheikh Zainuddin Wali, marking the beginning of agricultural activities of the farmers was celebrated at Aishmuqam in Anantnag district of south Kashmir yesterday. The torchlight procession, known as frove, a unique characteristic of this festival, was taken out by the people from villages surrounding the mausoleum of the Rishi saint, at sunset on Saturday.

The torchlight procession is considered to be signifying the victory of the good over the evil. The farmers in south Kashmir consider it auspicious to plough their fields after a visit to the shrine. Many of them visit the shrine at the holy township of Aishmuqam, 76 km south of Srinagar, about 20 km short of Pahalgam. People from the nearby areas pay their obeisance at the mausoleum and witness the festivities that include traditional folk singing and playing of musical instruments.

According to a legend, Hazrat Zainuddin Wali, a disciple of Sheikh Nooruddin Wali known as Alamdar-e-Kashmir or flag-bearer of Kashmir, he was born in Banderkot, Kishtwar in Doda district. It is said that once he took very ill and his mother was weeping bitterly.

All of a sudden, a person with a radiant face appeared before her and on the promise that she would bring the child to him in Kashmir after he regained health, he cured him through his spiritual power. Over a period of time, the mother forgot the promise and her child was again taken ill. This time, however, she knew the reason and proceeded to Kashmir along with her son.

The person who had appeared before the lady was Sheikh Nooruddin Wali. She recognised him at the first sight as the one who had visited her at Kishtwar and embraced Islam. The Sheikh named the child as Sheikh Zainuddin who later became his favourite disciple.

It is said that when, on the command of Sheikh Nooruddin, Zainuddin Wali arrived at Aishmuqam, the cave on the hillock was infested with poisonous snakes. The reptiles vacated the place for him to meditate. Legend has it that the disciples of Zainuddin carried the snakes in baskets to a nearby place that later came to be known as “Puhir Paejin” or a basket of snakes.

The saint passed away in 1448 AD. When his disciples brought the coffin for burial of the body, they were astounded to see it empty. In desperation they left the place and during the night, one of the disciples saw Zainuddin in his dream asking him to raise a mausoleum at the same place where the coffin was placed. Besides Hazrat Zainuddin Wali, 18 of his disciples are also buried in the premises of the shrine.

The shrine is visited by people throughout the year. The relics at the shrine include a holy staff gifted to Sheikh Nooruddin Reshi by Mir Sayed Ali Hamadani, the 14th century preacher who influenced en masse conversion of Kashmiris to Islam. The 8-feet long rod covered in green cloth is originally believed to be of Hazrat Owais Qarni, the exalted Muslim who had the distinction of being a companion of Prophet Mohammad without having met him during his lifetime.

At the time of a natural calamity like an epidemic, the blessings of the rod are invoked by taking it out and offering mass prayers.Back

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