City Faith – Thursday Djinns, Feroze Shah Kotla Ruins
The supernatural encounters.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It looks like a festive place to be. Groups of women are dressed in shararas of various shades. Auto-rickshaws are packed with children holding on to orange and green ice-cream bars. Balloon sellers are doing brisk business — mirrored, just opposite, by peanut vendors. Young folks are strutting about in distressed denims and chemically treated hairdos.
This is the auspicious Thursday evening at the Feroze Shah Kotla ruins. On this day, every week, a great mass of people surge towards the stone walls of this 14th century citadel. These women, men and children are not the usual history buffs though. On Thursdays, they come to seek audience with the Kotla’s resident djinns. The visitors believe that these djinns—creatures of fire according to Islamic doctrine—might help them with their life’s ongoing crises. The invisible beings are believed to lurk in a sprawling edifice tucked beside the citadel’s Jami mosque.
Stepping inside, it is like entering a cave. The air feels damp. Bats fly over the pilgrims’ heads, making chee-chee sound. Visitors themselves are reduced to shadowy figures, silently threading their way past a series of musty chambers. These cells are lit up with candles and earthen lamps. It is inside them that one apparently gets to meet the djinns.
At this moment, some people are sobbing loudly while talking to these supernatural figures. Others are screaming. The rest are simply looking awed.
Do djinns really exist? Whatever, this surreal excursion is certainly an intense experience. Vividly, it will show you that some of our centuries-old monuments, far from being just picturesque heaps of dead stones, actually pulsate with a most throbbing life.