Urs festival, Ajmer
The Urs festival is an annual festival held at Ajmer, a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan, which commemorates the death anniversary of the Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti, (founder of the Chishtiya Sufi order in India). It is held over six days and features night-long dhikr/zikr qawwali singing. The anniversary is celebrated in the seventh month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Thousands of pilgrims visit the shrine from all over India and abroad.
The Urs of Moinuddin Chishti started in 1212 A.D. It is celebrated every year in the first week of Islamic month of Rajab, on seeing the moon of Rajab, the seventh month of the Islamic calendar. Drums are beaten to herald the commencement of the annual ceremony.
The word Urs is derived from “uroos”, which means “ultimate meeting of an individual with God”. It is said that Moinuddin Chishti spent the last six days of his life in seclusion in a Huzra (room meant for prayers), and on the sixth day of Rajab he died.
The sixth day of the Urs is regarded as the most special and auspicious. It is called “Chhati Sharif”. It is celebrated on the 6th Rajab between 10:00 A.M. and 1:30 p.m. inside the Mazaar Sharif. Shijra is read by duty bound Khadims of Moinuddin Chishti, and then there is Fariyad (prayers).
Just before the Qu'l (conclusion of Chhati Sharif), Badhaawa (a poem of praise) is sung at the main entrance of the shrine by Qawwals.
Badhaawa is a recitation accompanied only by clapping; no musical instrument is played. It was composed by Syed Behlol Chishty, an ancestor of the present day Khadim community. After its recitation, the ceremony of the Qu'l comes to an end, and Fatiha is recited. The end of the ceremony is marked by firing a cannon at 1:30 p.m.
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