City Faith – Dargah Sabri, Daryaganj
Alone with a Sufi.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Tamarind tree. Chess board floor. White arches. Blue lamps. Green dome.
The dargah of Shah Sabir Bakhsh Chishti in Daryaganj, central Delhi, has a marble courtyard, a mosque and a fish-filled ablution tank in which the ripples spread gently across the water.
The flower bed is planted with sadabahar and raat ki rani.
The mihrab in the mosque is painted with floral patterns.
Birds run along the courtyard floor. Cats hide behind pillars.
The Sufi shrine is never crowded.The surrounding apartments turn it into a closed world. The traffic noise coming from Netaji Subhash Marg is its only link to Delhi.
Shah Sabir Bakhsh’s name was derived from the Persian word sabar, meaning ‘patience’. He lived in Delhi in the reign of Mughal king Akbar Shah II. Like most sufis, he dressed in old tattered clothes. He would stay awake in the night, reading Quran. Extremely thin, he survived for twelve years on the fruit of the gular tree.
Shah Bakhsh died in 1822. His tombstone was erected by Bahadaur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal. It is etched with a verse by Persian mystic poet Fariduddin Attar.
His son, who was his spiritual successor, died five years later. Syed Abdullah was buried next to his father.
Today, a chandelier hangs over the tombs.
Each year the shrine hosts qawwali music gatherings to celebrate Shah Bakhsh’s Urs, or death anniversary, that falls in the month of Muharram. A Sufi saint’s death is not mourned, it is celebrated. Urs means “wedding” in Arabic and it symbolizes the union of the lover with the beloved, who is God.
Every week on Thursday night, however, a few devotees assemble in the dargah to recite fatiha, the prayer for the departed.
Where Netaji Suhash Marg, across the road from Moti Mahal restaurant, Daryaganj Time 6 am to 10 pm Nearest Metro Station Chandni Chowk
Spot the dome
This way please
No one comes here
Father and son