City Faith – Eid-ul-Fitr, Shahi Idgah
Praying in the rain.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It was the first time in the living memory of middle-aged Delhiites that rain fell on Eid-ul-Fitr, the Muslim festival that marks the end of Ramzan, the month of praying, fasting and cleansing the soul. The Delhi Walla attended the morning namaaz at Shahi Idgah, the 17th century mosque built specifically to perform Eid prayers.
The Idgah is reached through either of its three unimpressive gateways. The mosque is not grand like Old Delhi’s touristy Jama Masjid. Neither is it as pretty as Chandni Chowk’s Fatehpuri Masjid, nor as historic as Ferozeshah Kotla Masjid, near ITO. West of Paharganj in central Delhi, it is a vast ground (164.3m by 162.5m) landscaped unevenly with stone slabs, bare earth and overgrown grass. Dating from the times of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, the western wall that faces Mecca is a simple wall with non-imposing domes and battlements. Iqbal Ahamd, an Old Delhi resident who lives close to Jama Masjid, spent Rs 30 on a rickshaw to come to Idgah. “Jama Masjid is for Jumma (Friday) prayers,” Mr Ahmad said. “For Eid prayers, I come to Shahi Idgah every year.”
Since the dawn sky was overcast with dark clouds, most worshipers – many dressed formally in white salwar suits – were resigned to the possibility of rain starting in the middle of the special namaaz. That’s what exactly happened. As the ground was filling up, it started drizzling. A few minutes after the congregation followed the imam in his prayers, the mild shower became a downpour.
Umbrellas opened, plastic sheets unrolled, but the prayers went on. The faithful knelt down, touched their forehead on the ground, stood up and then again went down. The rain became heavier. The newly-stitched clothes of many men were wet and stained with dirt. When the prayer ended, the rain, too, ended. An 8-year-old boy Aftab, who had come with his father from Ajmeri Gate, said, “Allah wanted to test his believers if they would come for the prayers in rain or not. That’s why he gave us this weather.”
Her new clothes
His new clothes
Their new clothes
Cleaning up for the prayers
Spot the umbrellas
It’s a downpour, now
Raining hard but we’re not complaining
Grin and say ‘Eid Mubarak’