City Season – The Basant People, Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah
The yellow of the spring.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Every year as winter gives way to Delhi’s short spring spell, the Delhiwallas mark the shift in season by offering yellow mustard flowers at the shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, the 14th century sufi saint.
On February 7, 2011, the eve of Basant Panchmi, the day that heralds the onset of basant – the spring – most pilgrims at Hazrat Nizamuddin’s shrine were either dressed in yellow clothes or had a yellow scarf. After the evening prayers, the qawwals of the dargah sang the Hindi poems composed by Amir Khusro. Seven centuries ago, poet Khusro, whose grave lies in the dargah complex, had worn yellow to bring a smile to his beloved, Hazrat Nizamuddin. The saint had been grieving for his nephew’s death. The tradition of wearing yellow in the shrine on basant has been observed since then.
The Delhi Walla presents the dargah’s basant people. A few did not show any yellow, some offered red roses instead of yellow mustards or yellow marigolds. It didn’t matter; their love for Hazrat Nizamuddin and their joy for the spring glowed on their faces.