City Life – Mohammed Basheer’s All-Purpose Karsa, Around Sufi Shrines
Fakir’s priceless possession.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Offhand The Delhi Walla can’t recall how many times I’ve spotted this cheerful fakir seen wandering around Sufi shrines across Delhi–and with a pretty bowl called a karsa hanging around his neck.
It’s often filled with banknotes and coins he’s received from pilgrims. But this afternoon the bowl is serving another purpose altogether: Brimming with veggie biryani that Mohammed Basheer is quietly enjoying.
He’s amused by my astonishment. “It’s my eating bowl, too,” he says. “I have no real possessions except for rings on my fingers, amulets around my neck and this karsa.”
I’m reminded that fakirs are Sufi Muslim ascetics who follow a life of poverty, renouncing possessions. A fakir like Mr Basheer is only meant to possess the spiritual need for God.
Mr Basheer moved to Delhi from his native Kashmir five years ago, but obtained the karsa at a Sufi shrine only last year. The bowl looks old and weather-beaten.
“I’m surprised but many people have offered to buy it from me, thousands of rupees, but how can I give it away?” It was given to him by a mystic and hence priceless.
The karsa never leaves his company, says the fakir, “even when I’m sleeping at night on the pavement.”
As dear as heart