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IN THE COURTYARD OF THE BELOVED

THE URS OF GHARIB NAWAZ

Story by Tewfic El-Sawy 24 de febrero de 2017

The annual Urs (commemoration of death anniversary) of the Sufi saint Moin'Uddin Chisti at his shrine in Ajmer, Rajasthan (India) is one of the largest Muslim pilgrimages in the world.

The 'ecosystem' feeding off the shrine consists of pious pilgrims, vagabonds and charlatans, sightseers, mendicants and beggars, fakirs, shoppers, established and opportunistic vendors, pickpockets and thieves, the poor, the wealthy, the venal and the innocent...who come here during the Urs to seek spiritual salvation, riddance of 'jinns', money and entertainment. Even the transgendered hijras come to Ajmer to take part in the veneration of Gharib Nawaz.

The pilgrimage is populated by Muslims (Shi'a and Sunni, Sufis and non Sufis), Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Christians and non-believers, who all congregate to pay homage to the most important Sufi saint of South Asia.

A few days ago, a suicide bomber affiliated with the so-called Islamic State attacked Sehwan Sharif, one of the most revered Sufi shrines, in Pakistan killing more than 80 people, including 24 children, and wounding more than 250.

Ms Fatima Bhutto wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times bemoaning this gruesome event, and described the Sehwan shrine as "... an egalitarian oasis formed by the legacies and practice of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism merging into one."

The shrine of Moin'Uddin Chisti is another.

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Ajmer, Rajasthan, India