Family members wait to perform the ritual thanking the saint for helping them to conceive a healthy child.
Before entering this verandah area, men remove their shoes and perform the ritual ablutions before prayer. On this open platform, men from the community pray at the five designated times during the day.
Under a banyan tree, a short walk from the Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, is an abandoned tank known as Sona Bai's Well. Sona Bai, the daughter of a Hindu leader is said to have told Muntajib al-Din's servant that she would only allow him to draw water from her well for the saint if his master could turn the tank's water into gold. She was making fun of Muntajib's name, "giver of gold." However, when her message was relayed, Muntajib told his servant to place his handkerchief in the tank after drawing water. When the water did indeed turn to gold, Sona Bai converted to Islam and became a lifelong disciple of Muntajib al-Din.
A senior singer plays harmonium and leads the qawwali by singing verses praising particular saints. Other singers, like the man sitting next to him in this photo, sing antiphonal or chorus-like responses to each of his verses.
On the wall of the masjid, over the mehrab or niche designating the direction of prayer is this blue-green plaque with the shahada written in gold lettering: There is only one God and Muhammad is his prophet.
Within the dargah is a masjid (mosque), a place of prayer and prostration.
This child in her finest dress and blud scarf sits patiently in the metal crate of the balance as she is weighed against the bags of sweetbreads to be distributed to the community. Following a custom widely practiced in all religious communities in South Asia, the girl, as the primary participant in the ritual, wears a garland of fresh flowers.
The child dressed in a beautiful peach dress and blue scarf sits patiently as her weight balances the sweetbreads on the other side, determining the contribution of her familiy to the community. [See cbind0043 for description of this Thanksgiving Ritual.]
At this shrine, couples pray to the saint, Zar Zari Zar Baksh, for his help in conceiving a healthy child. When the child is old enough, the couples promise tol return and make an offering of thanksgiving. This ritual consists of distributing sweetbreads equal in weight to that of the child. To determine this weight, two metal crates are balanced by a rope hanging over the limb of a large tree in the courtyard of the dargah. Often travelling from great distances, families dress in their finest clothes and bring many family members to share in this festive celebratory ritual.
These women are holding their female and male children as they wait to perform the ritual of thanksgiving. Many women visiting the shrine note that the prayers of women offered at the dargah are understood to be more efficacious than those of men. [For description of the ritual, see cbind0043.]
The yellow gate area marks the entrance into the mosque and tomb of the Emporor Aurangzeb. Stalls selling various religious goods line the passage leading into mosque. Worshippers can buy plaques inscribed with Qur'anic passages, scale models and photographs of religious shrines, scarves, prayer caps (topis), and books, among other religious goods. The sign "STD, ISD" designates a long distance telephone booth.
Before praying, all Muslim worshippers must purify themselves by performing ritual ablutions. Mosques provide fountains or individual water spigots so that each person can carry out this ritual cleansing.
A staunchly religious man, Aurangzeb enforced Sharia law for all, forbidding drinking and gambling in his realm, and reinstating the hated jizya tax on non-Muslims.
After walking up the stairs and through the arched main entranceway to the dargah, one enters the courtyard which leads to another set of steps and another arched entrance. Behind that doorway lies the tomb of the saint, Zar Zari Zar Baksh, and a second tomb for the mother of the saint. Both of these tombs are sacred sites, important to pilgrims seeking help and consolation.
The decoration on this blue and white charger was inspired by Islamic ceramics of the 16th and 17th centuries and influenced the decorative patterns used on 18th century Dutch Delft wares.
In the heart of the village of Khuldabad is the mosque built around this simple tomb of the last Mughal Emperor of India, Aurangzeb. During his rule, 1658 to 1707 CE, Aurangzeb expanded the Mughal empire through extended wars of conquest, mostly in the Deccan. In 1707, at the age of 88, Aurangzeb died near the city named for him, Aurangabad. According to his wishes, he was buried in the Deccan town of Khuldabad in this simple tomb.
The niche in the wall, the mehrab, is placed in the direction of Mecca so that all facing the mehrab for prayer will also be facing Mecca. On the wall are the names Allah and Muhammad representing the creedal statement, the Shahada: There exists only one God and Muhammad is his messenger. Also, on the wall is the clock, a reminder of the 5 daily prayer times.
Every mosque prominently displays a clock. The clock reminds Muslims of the injunction to pray five times daily. This colorfully painted and decorated clock is located on a pillar just in front of the mehrab and notes the subsequent prayer time.
The speakers visible in this photo are used to announce the call to prayer.
In Khuldabad, a town of many Sufi tombs and dargahs (shrines), the shrine of Jala al-Din, also known by his epithet Ganj-i-Ravan (Flowing Treasure), is a pilgrimage site favored for its miraculous powers. In the courtyard of the dargah is a tree said to have been planted in a miraculous way by the saint. Just outside the dargah is a spring-fed pond known as the Fairies' Tank (pariyon ka talab) which is understood to have healing properties.
Taj Muammad, Khuldabad's senior qawwali singer in January 2003, left Khuldabad as a young teen to study and live with a respected qawwali teacher in Bombay. His Khuldabadi family had recognized his gift as he sang with the local qawwali performers as a boy, and so supported his move to Bombay to learn with a master, an ustad. In his sixties, Taj Muhammad was still singing the somber and spirited melodies in a clear voice, praising God, the Prophet, and early Sufi saints.
The saint, Jalal al-Din, is said to have thrown a stick which stuck in the ground and began growing into a tree. As this now magnificent tree is associated with the saint and his healing powers, pilgrims tie colored fabric to its branches as a symbol of their petitions. In particular, women who have been infertile come to this shrine to pray for the blessing of children.
Magnificent banyan tree near Sona Bai's Well.
Magnificent banyan tree near Sona Bai's well.