This year people pray for peace at Aishmuqam Urs

by Umar Khurshid

Srinagar: Thousands of devotees visited the shrine of Sufi saint Zain-u-din Wali (RA), located on a hillock in Ashmuqam, Islamabad district, to pay their obeisance, during the annual Urs on Thursday, April 30, 2018.

People from the different walks of life offered nightlong prayers at the shrine during the preceding night. The Urs culminated with traditional lighting (Zool) of torches after Maghrib prayers on Monday evening.

Devotees while  holding Mashaal’s at Aishmuqam Shrine, KL photo by Shah Hilal

On Monday morning people especially youth, performed traditional ‘damaali’ while some revellers ripped apart their shirts in excitement as they chanted “Zain Shah Baadshah”.

A festive atmosphere was witnessed along the serpentine stairway leading to the shrine and on the hillock as dozens of devotees carrying ‘mashaals’ (fire torches) lined up the zigzag hilly track leading to the shrine. Villagers lit earthen oil lamps at their doorsteps on the occasion.

Legend has it that a few centuries back a ‘genie’ (ghost) had terrified Aishmuqam as it would devour villagers one by one.

Locals said when Hazrat Zain-u-Din Wali came to Aishmuqam in the 15th century, he kept the tradition of lighting torches. The saint meditated in a small cave, where his mausoleum is now located.

On this date, April 12, corresponding to Islamic month of Rajab, death anniversary (Urs) of the saint is observed, with the congregational prayers, followed by traditional “Zool”. According to local legends, the lighting of torches is done as part of jubilation commemorating the killing of the demon by Zain ud din Wali (RA). This is observed as a victory of good over evil.

The shrine plays a significant role in the socio-cultural, religious and economic life of Kashmir. Devotees have internalized Zain ud Din’s message of peace and unity. People from different faiths come from far and near throughout the year to pay homage to the great saint.

People visit this shrine for spiritual benefits and it plays a pivotal role in spreading the light of divine guidance among the believers, as Zain ud din’s message is crystal clear, based on divine principles. People’s faith is attached to this shrine to an extent, they believe, owing to the adoration of this Holy man; the entire area is under protection.

As part of the prevalent tradition, every year the organizers chose a different theme for the Urs. “Given the bloodshed Kashmir is witnessing since last few months, this year we are praying for peace,” said a local organizer.

The large gatherings and congregations on Thursdays, Fridays and festive occasions at this shrine has promoted and intensified commercial activities.The covered streets are swarming with shops; selling colourful and attractive items and purchases of any stuff from the premises of the shrine is considered as a sacrament (Tabarruk) by the people.

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