Every year, devotees from all over India come to the shrine of Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer to seek their heart's true desires. The ongoing month of Ramzan is considered a particularly auspicious time to visit the shrine.
Several wishes pull devotees to the dargah. Some are looking for family prosperity, some want a promotion and some health. The shrine popularly known as Ajmer Ki Dargah is considered one of the holiest places of worship in India, not only for the Muslims but for the disciples of every religious belief.
Syed Nazzre Hasan Chishty, Khadim, Dargah Sharif describes the cultural harmony associated with dargah. He says, “Nobody returns empty-handed from Khawaja’s darbar. In this day and age when people all around us are fighting in the name of religion and colour, this is the place where people stand together and pray for peace and harmony."
Being the final resting place of the Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti, it has an immense contribution to spreading the ethical and spiritual values of Islam amongst the masses. Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti was a great Sufi Saint who dedicated his entire life to uplifting the downtrodden people and weaker sections. Ajmer Sharif is known as the city of Khawja Garib Nawaz.
The shrine was built by Mughal King Humayun in honour of this saint. The Ajmer Sharif Dargah was built by the Mughals and has justified by the rich Mughal architecture. One can witness the iconic Mughal architecture once they visit this place. The Dargah has various constituents typical of Mughal architecture such as tombs, courtyards and Daalaans, Nizam Gate, Buland Darwaza, Jama Masjid, Aulia Masjid, Dargah Shrine, Mehfilkhana and about a dozen of other prominent establishments.
Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti, who was a Persian Sufi saint, is enshrined in this place owing to his preachings. Devotees offer flowers, Chaadar (Velvet cloth), Attar (Non-Alcoholic perfume), and sandalwood powder. Besides these offerings, they also recite Quran, Nafal Namaz, Milad, and Aayat-e- Karima and Khatam-E-Khawajgan. People come here with the hope of fulfilment of their wishes and offering Chadar in the Dargah. When their wishes come true, they revisit to express their gratitude.
As gathered, many devotees come here to pray for conceiving children. It is believed that those who cannot bear children are blessed after praying here. Historian Mohammad Azam says,” Emperor Akbar had come barefoot from Agra to Ajmer and had sought the birth of a son here”.
Raziya Khan a pilgrim from Mumbai says, "My Mannat (wish) got fulfilled and today I am offering chadar and rose flowers with itra. I wanted a child, but due to unknown problems, I was not able to conceive. Last time, I came and tied a dhaga at the Jannati Darwaza to pray for a baby."
Along with prayers, the holy shrine of Chishti is also a source of nutrition and life for many. According to the Khadims of Ajmer Sharif Dargah, many people visit the dargah looking for food and shelter. The doors of the dargah remain open for all irrespective of caste and religion. Devotees believe that "Whether or not there is a place to cover the head, Khwaja Garib Nawaz is with us. We may not get food for two times, but the langar of Khwaja Garib Nawaz is for all."
Special langar is being prepared in the huge cauldrons in the inner courtyard of the shrine which are popularly known as the Badi Degh and Choti Degh. The big Degh cooks 4800 kg langar and 2400 kg langar are prepared in the small Degh at a time. No meat has ever been made in these Deghs for 400 years.
Khawaja Garib Nawaz's Langar consists of sweet rice with a special Zarda (Saffron), which is consumed by all who visit here. The staff claims that the bigger degh was presented by emperor Akbar and the smaller was donated by Emperor Jahangir. Dinners and lunch are prepared for poor people and pilgrims at the time of special occasions like Ramzan, Moharaham, Urus etc.
Aashiqs of Khwaja(devotees are popularly known as Aahiq- e - Khawaja) were seen serving the chilled Mohabbat ka Sharbat, the chilled milk, sugar, and rose syrup drink. One old man was seen serving Tang and the smile on his face was showing the devotion he has for Khawaja Garib Nawaz. He was surrounded by many small children as he served chilled Mango Flavour Tang.
A group of Khadims were seen touching orange coloured candles on the heads of the devotees, when enquired about the same Khadim Daniyal Chishti said, “This is done at the time of the Roshni ki dua and it is considered that these candles are lit in the courtyard of Garib Nawaj Baba and with this, all the pains and sorrows get over."
Another aspect that one takes back is the sound of Qawwalis going on, and people were seen praying everywhere in the courtyard of Dargah Sharif, the Aashiqs were seen reading the holy Quran, doing the Seva by cutting the fruits and serving the iftaar to everyone who was observing Roza, the fast.
A dargah committee takes care of the security and sanitation of the place. The rituals are in the hands of the Anjuman Committee. The Gilaf( Chaadar) is presented to show respect and protection. According to certain descriptions, it is known that the Hazrat Ibrahim was the first person to offer Gilaaf on Kabe Sharif. Gilaf is a Chaadar, which is offered by the devotees to Khawaja.
As I set to leave, Syed Bilal Hussain, another Khadim, said, “You are blessed for visiting this holy shrine on this auspicious occasion of 21 Ramzan, this is the supreme court and you are amongst the favourite of Allah, that's why you are here today. Many want to come here, but only the lucky ones do."