T.V. Sivanandan

GULBARGA: The five-day 603rd Urs-e-Sharief of 14th century Sufi saint Hasrath Khwaja Bande Nawaz Gesudiraz, a symbol of religious tolerance and whose universal message of love and compassion created a permanent bondage between Hindus and Muslims in the region, would be held here from Wednesday. Thousands of devotees from all over the country will converge in the city, which was once the capital of the Bahamanis, to participate in the “urs” and offer obeisance at the Dargah Sharief. The religious ceremonies preceding the Urs-e-Sharief began at the dargah on Monday. The religious events included “Khidmat-I Fatiha,” “Band Sama” and distribution of Tabarruk at Dargah Shareef.

On Tuesday, “Khidmat-I Farrashi” and “Band Sama” would be held at Dargah Shareef, followed by Namas-e-Asir at the Mehbub Gulshan public garden in the city after which the traditional event of carrying the sandal paste from the garden to the Dargah Shareef would be held. The sandal paste brought in a procession would be anointed on the tomb of Khwaja Banda Nawaz, in the spacious mausoleum built by the then Bahamani King Ahmed Shaha Wali Bahamani marking the beginning of the Urs-e-Sharief. The 14th century Sufi saint was a disciple of Hazarath Khwaja Pir Naseeruddin Mahmood, who is also popularly known as Chirag of Delhi. Khwaja Bande Nawaz Gesudiraz played an important role in preaching Islam in the Indian context during the 14th century, which is considered a landmark achievement in the religious history of Indian Muslims, when Islam in general and Sufism in particular focussed mainly on ethical aspects. Khwaja had his formal education in Islamic, and Koranic studies, Arabic grammar, Prophetic traditions, theology, law and jurisprudence, philosophy and Sufism under the Chirag of Delhi Khwaja Pir Naseeruddin Mahmood. After his stint with his master Hasrath Khwaja Pir Naseeruddin Mahmood, the 14th century Sufi saint moved to Daulatabad, the capital of Mohammed bin Tughlaq’s kingdom, now in Maharashtra, and later made Gulbarga his abode on the invitation of Bahamani King Firuz Shah Bahamani. For the next 22 years, Khwaja made Gulbarga his home to spread the message of universal brotherhood. Khwaja is considered the first prose writer in Urdu and wrote 195 books in Arabic, Persian and Urdu. The direct descendant of Khwaja Bande Nawaz, Syed Shaha Gesudaraz Khusro Hussaini, Sajjada Nasheen of the Dargah Shareef, would lead the sandal procession from the public garden, signalling the beginning of the “urs” on Tuesday evening.