The Urs Fair of Ajmer is organized annually in Rajab, the seventh month of the Islam calendar. The celebrations are arranged at the Holy Shrine of Ajmer. This site remains open for public viewing the whole day and night during the Urs Fair.
Legends behind the Urs Fair, Ajmer
The date of the festival coincides with the day of full moon in the month of Rajab that generally occurs during the first week. The Urs Fair is popular as the largest Muslim fair of India. ‘Urs’ here refers to ‘death’ of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. It is to pay respect to this great Sufi saint that devotees travel to Ajmer from all over the country; thus establishing Urs Fair as one of the largest pilgrimages of India.
The festivities are held for six days which are marked by recitals of Urdu poetry and singing of qawwalis at the holy Shrine. Offerings or nazranas by devotees is a common sight at the Urs Fair.
Customs and Traditions of the Urs Fair, Ajmer
The first day of the fair is marked by hoisting a white flag at the site of the tomb of Sajdanashin, the representative of the Chishtia order after the death of Khwaja Moinuddin. Everyday for the six days of the fair, this tomb must be anointed with sandalwood paste and rosewater in the morning before other festivities begin.
It is a tradition to serve sweet rice at the Holy Shrine for lunch to all the visitors. Two large cauldrons are placed on fire just outside the main dargah premises where the rice is cooked. The rice that is cooked with condiments and dry fruits is known as sanctified food or ‘tabarukh’ in the words of the locals.
Not only songs and poetry but also the art and craft of the region are promoted at the Urs Fair. A bazaar sits outside the precincts of the Holy Shrine selling embroidered prayer caps and rugs, decorative chadars, flowers and other souvenirs.
During the six days of the festival, all other work at the Holy Shrine is suspended. The gates of the shrine are closed from evening time the whole year round; it is only during the festival that the shrine closes for only two hours at night.
Cultural Importance of the Urs Fair, Ajmer
A breathtaking spectacle awaits visitors at the Urs Fair. From participating in the ‘Maghrib’ or sunset prayers on the sixth day of the festival to open looting of ‘kheer’ cooked as ‘tabaruk’ and reserving a passage to heaven through the ‘Jannati Darwaza’ of the Holy Shrine, everything at the festival is a reflection of the rich culture of Rajasthan.
The festival is most important to the fakirs, the followers of Moinuddin Chishti, who are seen begging for alms outside the dargah premises in large numbers. A must visit for tourists is the ‘mehfil khana’ where art performances and religious offerings are conducted.
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