City Moment – The Solitary Man’s Private Prayer, Hazrat Nizamuddin’s Sufi Shrine
The memorable instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
His palms were folded together; his lips occasionally trembled. The young man stood at one side of the courtyard. It seemed he was praying.
The Delhi Walla saw him one evening at the tomb of Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. The courtyard was full of pilgrims seated in intimate clusters of families and friends. But this man was alone. He held his belongings tightly between his legs as if he feared somebody would snatch them from him.
A few minutes later a loudspeaker installed in the shrine’s Jamat Khana mosque came to life with a great crackling sound; a priest’s melodious sound summoned the faithful for the evening prayer. But it made no difference to the young man. His expressions remained the same. They gave an impression of him asking–or perhaps pleading–for some special wish from the 14h century saint.
As he continued to pray, two elderly men arrived and stood next to him. They were familiar faces in the shrine. Both make a living by fanning pilgrims during the warm months. (In cold months, they sell tiny perfume bottles to devotees.) The two men were in the midst of a passionate discussion, waving arms and pointing fingers at each other. The confrontation refused to end. Many people noticed the squabble but the young man was not distracted. He continued with his private prayer. He was alone in his home. It was a beautiful moment.
Keeping the faith