Ajmer's famous annual Urs festival, dedicated to Sufi saint Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisty started here on Friday.
The annual ceremony commenced with the hoisting of the historical flag and a 21-gun salute at the Sufi saint's mausoleum, declaring the start of annual festival.
"Today on the 25th day of the moon, the flag is hoisted, on the Buland Darwaza. The flag comes from Bhilwara and it denotes the faith of the devotees in the Dargah. I believe the tradition has been going on since 1945-46," said Syed Hasan Hashmi, Convenor, Urs programme at the Dargah of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisty, Ajmer.
Following conventions, the Gori family of Bhilwara, now headed by Fakrudin Gori is authorised and assigned the task of hoisting the Urs flag.
On Friday, Members of the family arrived in Ajmer carrying the flag and hoisted the flag. This tradition has been kept alive since 1944.
"Since 1944 my grandfather had been carrying on the tradition. After him my father did so, and now I am carrying on the legacy. It is done under the guidance of my lawyer, Syed Ahmed Syed Abrar Ahmed. The significance of hoisting the flag is that the public should know that the Urs of Gharib Nawab is about to arrive," said Fakruddin Gori, standard-bearer of Ajmer Urs flag from Bhilwara.
Urs is observed to mark the death anniversary of any departed saintly figure. Although it is an Islamic tradition, people of all faiths participate with equal reverence.
Hundreds of thousands of believers from various parts of the country flock to the Sufi sain't mausoleum to pay their obeisance.
The general belief is that the pure-hearted individuals' all wishes get fulfilled here.
During Urs, the Dargah's main gates called the 'Jannati Darwaza' (Gateway to Heaven), which normally remains closed, are opened for the devotees.
The large convergence of people from across the country and abroad is considered to be second largest congregation of Muslims at one place after Mecca.
Meanwhile, in view of large number of devotees attending the congregation, the city administration has made elaborate arrangements.
This Sufi saint Moin-ud-din Chisti, popularly known as 'Garib Nawaz' (Messiah of the poor), is believed to have born in Circa 1142. Since his ancestors belonged to a town named Chisti, the devotees referred to him by that name.
Chisti, who preached tolerance and unity of all religions, died in Ajmer where his tomb has become a shrine for millions of people from around the world.
In 1236 AD, the saint entered his cell to pray in seclusion for six days, at the end of which he died. Since then the Urs has been celebrated for six days every year.
On their part, the devotees visiting the shrine offer fresh flowers as a symbol of their devotion. Some offer large amounts of money and expensive jewels.
Devotional music and reciting from Chishti's own works and other Sufi saints are rendered in traditional Qawwali (chorus singing) style.
The annual event culminates with readings from the holy Quran and special prayers. By Kishore Solanki(ANI)