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Reverence for ‘Peer Dastgeer’, common to Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits

Srinagar, Nov 8, 2022 – Hundreds of men, women and children with moist eyes and stretched arms were seeking blessings of revered Saint, Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani known fondly as ‘Peer Dastgeer’ in Kashmir.

The huge gathering of devotees at the annual Urs of Peer Dastgeer in Khanyar locality of Srinagar city since Monday stands as a proof to the fact that the centuries old connect between Kashmir and Sufism is unbroken and intact.

The only Sufi saint who never visited Kashmir, but is so highly revered here, Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani belonged to Iraq.

The saint’s mausoleum is in Baghdad, but strangely, the saint is less known in his native land than he is in far off Kashmir.

Peer Dastgeer is part of the eclectic culture and mutual faith between the local Muslims and the Kashmiri Pandits.

Local Pandits call the saint ‘Kahnoye’ and never would a local Hindu visit the Mata Sharika’s temple atop the ‘Hari Parbat’ hillock in old city Srinagar and not pay obeisance at the Peer Dastgeer’s shrine the same day.

Kashmiris across the religious divide have been seeking the saint’s blessings since centuries.

The saint’s Holy relic (believed to be a hair of the saint’s beard) is displayed to the devotees on the annual Urs.

The moment the ‘Deedar’ (Display of Holy Relic) starts, the huge gathering of devotees breaks into a rapture.

Salam Malik, 68, has come with his 8-year old grandson, Altamash from Shopian district. Malik is seeking blessings for Altamash.

Haleema Bano, 26, of Kupwara district has come to invoke the saint’s blessings for a suitable groom.

Nazir Lone, 35, of Badgam district has a land compensation case pending with the revenue collector. He is seeking the saint’s intervention to get his compensation cheque in time as he plans to proceed on Haj pilgrimage this year along with his wife.

Sajad, 42 and his wife Raja, 38, have been married for the last 10 years. They are still childless. They seek the saint’s blessings and take a vow that if they get a child they would bring the baby to the saint’s shrine on the next annual Urs.

Hundreds of such devotees with scores of different vows and wishes have gathered at Peer Dastgeer shrine.

Every devotee is sure that his/her vow would be granted by the saint. Some of these devotees have come for thanksgiving as their vows and prayers made last year have been answered.

Vehicular movement on the road leading to the shrine has been blocked by traffic policemen to facilitate the pedestrian movement of the devotees.

Urban, semi-urban and rural, devotees of the saint belong to every segment of the local society.

Sweetmeat shops have come up overnight as devotees buy ‘Halwa’ and ‘Paratha’ to be taken home and distributed among other family members as ‘Tabaruk’ from the shrine.

Pavement sellers are doing brisk business selling different items, including shoes, socks, readymade clothes and other items. It is a fair the like of which has no parallel in the old city Srinagar areas.

Born on March 23, 1075 in Gilan Province of Iraq, Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani was famous for his exceptional ability to reconcile the mystical nature of Sufism with the sober demands of the Islamic Law.

He passed away on February 21, 1166. He is buried in Baghdad.

He wrote many books among which ‘Ghunyat tut talibeen’ (Treasure for seekers) is the most famous.

Saleem Beg, chairman of Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Jammu and Kashmir chapter, said, “An Afghan traveller on a visit to Kashmir presented the then governor of the state, Sardar Abdullah Khan, with a holy relic belonging to the renowned sufi saint Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani. The relic was deposited with Syed Buzargh Shah, a prominent qadri order sufi of that time.

“A shrine was constructed at Khanyar in 1806 A.D. from where the relic was displayed on various religious festivals. The shrine was enlarged in 1877 A.D. by Khwaja Sanaullah Shawl.”

The shrine was gutted in a mysterious blaze on June 25, 2012. The Holy Relic remained safe as it was kept in a fire-proof chest.

The building was reconstructed exactly as it had been because the INTACH had a digital map of the shrine which was given to the government for reconstruction of the shrine on the same pattern.

INTACH also supervised the shrine’s reconstruction.  (Agency)

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