Urs Sharif at Haji Ali Dargah

hajialiMUMBAI: The 10-day annual Urs of Sufi saint Makhdoom Ali Mahimi, which begins on Friday evening with the offering of traditional sandalwood and


flowers by the Mumbai Police and the dargah committee, will be a low-key affair this year.

As a mark of respect for the victims of 26/11 massacre, the dargah committee has decided to scale down the usually elaborate celebrations and stick to performing the traditional rites and rituals associated with Urs. Thousands of devotees, cutting across religious barriers, are expected to visit the Dargah during Urs.

“The city is in grief. We will restrict the celebrations to the necessary rituals,” Makhdoom Mahimi Dargah Trust managing trustee Sohail Khandwani said.

Part of the tradition is the procession which begins at the Mahim police station and ends with the offering of sandalwood and flowers by Mumbai Police at the shrine’s crowded hall touching the Arabian Sea in Mahim.

Although the annual Mahim fair is part of Urs, this year the various bands — who in the past performed Sufi music — are not playing there. Even percussion instruments like huge drums will give way to daffs (small drum-like instruments); whirling dervishes have also been kept away. “It’s not a time for rejoicing for the city. We have kept the entertainment element out of Urs celebrations this year,” Khandwani added.

One of the most revered Sufis in India, the 15th-century saint is widely acknowledged for his scholarly works, including the first commentary on the Quran, liberal views and inclusive ideals.

“When his contemporary, the Spanish scholar Mohiuddin Ibne Arabi, faced criticism for his philosophy of Wahdat-ul-Wajood (unity and omnipresence of God), Mahimi was among the scholars who supported him. Mahimi epitomises the inclusive, humanist character of Sufism,” Makhdoom Ali Mahimi Memorial Oriental Research Institue and Library director and scholar Abdus Sattar Dalvi said. “Mahimi’s message can work as a salve in times like these,” he added.

New structure for Haji Ali Dargah

The foundation stone of a new structure for the shrine of Haji Ali Pir, also called Haji Ali Dargah, will be laid at 2 pm on Friday. The new structure, to be completed in over two years, will be made of Makrana marble, the same material used in the Taj Mahal 400 years ago. The estimated cost is around Rs 12 crore. Noted architect Chetan Raikar has been hired to design the new shrine complex.


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