Barabanki, March 10 (IANS) This is a Holi that is different to the only being celebrated in the rest of the country.
Dewa Sharif Dargah, the shrine of the Sufi saint Haji Waris Ali Shah, is the only dargah in the country where Holi is celebrated with gaiety and fervor.
The saint was born here in 1817 AD and belonged to the Qadiriyya and Chishtiyya schools of Sufism.
He was initiated in the traditional Chishtiyya Sufi order, but he adopted more liberal view and permitted his followers to remain in their own religion.
As a small boy, Waris Ali attached himself to Haji Khadim Ali Shah, a Sufi dervish of Golaganj, Lucknow, in the state of Uttar Pradesh remained with him until his death in 1832-33 when Waris Ali was 16 years old.
As he grew up, Wais Ali Shah travelled to several countries and won disciples as well as acclaim for his philosophy.
After he died in 1905, his disciples built the ‘dargah’ that is one of the best-known shrines in Uttar Pradesh today.
The shrine denotes the oneness between Muslims and Hindus, both of whom regularly visit the shrine.
Holi is played at the ‘dargah’ usually in shades of yellow which is the revered colour at the shrine and more than Hindus, it is Muslims who participate in the festivals.
Haji Waris Ali Shah’s disciples usually wear yellow.
Followers and devotees of the shrine come from distant locations to participate in this unique Holi that rises above the realms of religion and caste.
“In these times, when communities clash even without any apparent provocation, the Dewa Sharif is a lesson in communal harmony. Thousands of people who believe in the philosophy of oneness come here every day and the entire township has grown over the years around the shrine. For Hindus, Haji Waris Ali Shah is Lord Krishna , for Christians he is Jesus and Muslims see him as the Prophet’s essence. He is one of those rare saints who has found acceptance and recognition in every religion,” said Karim Khan who owns a tiny flower shop outside the ‘dargah’.
The shrine also runs a home for the destitute, it provides free food and shelter to the people in the vicinity. The daily ‘langar’ (community feast) comprises roti and ‘dal’ for devotees but during festivals, the dargah community also prepares lavish food like biryani, qorma, sheermal and kheer.
During Ramzaan, Hindus share the Iftari and serve sherbat to the Muslims who fast during this period and during Janmashtami, the the tableau of Lord Krishna is taken around the campus of the shrine and people worship it with the deepest reverence.