Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Spring arrives at Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah

Traditionally, the colour of Islam is green. On this day, however, the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, the site of Khwaja Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia and his most famous disciple Hazrat Amir Khusrow, wears the hue to golden yellow.

This is the annual Vasant Utsav, the Hindu festival of ‘Basant Panchami’, which marks the arrival of spring.

This is the legacy of Amir Khusrow, and on this day every year in Jan/Feb as Northern India marks the onset of spring, the Dargah envelops itself in yellow and merry music associated with spring! “Mohay apnay hi rung mein rang ley, Tu toh saaheb mera Mehboob-e-Ilaahi”

The relationship of Hazrat Amir Khusrow, the poet-extraordinaire and musician with his master Mehboob-e-Ilaahi Khwaja Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia is well documented and known by all lovers of Chisti Sufiyana Silsila and Sufi Tasawwuf. Amir Khusrow’s treasure trove of music (Qawwaalis and poems written in mix of Hindvi, Khari Boli, Urdu and Persian) celebrate his love for the ‘Khwaja’, his spiritual master and one can experience it through multiple celebrations at the Dargah (mausoleum) throughout the year.

Legend tells us that Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia was so aggrieved by the death of his nephew Taqiuddin Nooh, who had a sudden, untimely death that he withdrew himself from worldly affairs, avoided meeting his followers and spent all of his time at his newphew’s grave or in his ‘Chilla-e-Sharif’ (place of residence). His disciples were worried and tried many a ruse to make their Khwaja talk again, make him happy, just as he was before the tragedy. But alas all failed. Even his most favourite disciple, Amir Khusro tried to reason with him in many ways but failed to cheer him up.

Then one day, Khusrow noticed some young women dressed in yellow clothes, adorned with yellow flowers of marigold who were celebrating Vasant Utsav with a lot of singing, fun and gaiety, as they went to their temples to pray. Seeing this an idea struck Khusrow, who immediately donned a yellow ghaagra, covered his face with a chunni, hung garlands of yellow marigold around his neck and with a bunch of sarson (mustard) flowers stuck to his dhol, he landed at his master’s room and began singing and dancing to a self-composed song “Aaj Basant Manaaley Suhagan…Aaj Basant Manaaley Suhagan”.

Seeing this spectacle and knowing it was Khusrow under the woman’s garb who was singing and dancing with gay abandon, it is said that Hazrat Nizamuddin burst out laughing! The spell of gloom was suddenly lifted and the whole congregation of his followers erupted in joy! Since then, every year for more than seven centuries now, Sufi Basant has became a regular festival in remembrance of the incident, at the same time acting as the harbinger of the proverbial spring’s sunny joys after the gloom of winter, highlighting the cyclical nature of nature, the awakening and rejuvenation of life itself.

On this day, the Dargah’s senior priests and Qawwaal singers, dress up in yellow and wear Basanti (yellow-hued) scarves, chaadars and caps, post which they take out a joyous procession around the Nizamuddin Basti, carrying gendaful (marigold) and pots of sarson flowers (Yellow Mustard) through the narrow alleys, which reverberate with the sounds of Qawwaalis and dhol.

Offering flowers and prayers on every important grave in the area they finally reach the main Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and after laying down the offerings of a yellow chaadar and yellow flowers, the Qawwaal singers settle down for a long session of soulful renditions of Hindvi and Persian Qawwalis; Mostly written by Amir Khusrow himself to praise the coming of sunny spring and the disciple’s everlasting love for his master.


Aaj basant manaalay suhaagun,
Aaj basant manaalay;
Anjan manjan kar piya mori,
Lambay neher lagaaye;
Tu kya sovay neend ki maasi,
So jaagay teray bhaag, suhaagun,
Aaj basant manalay…..;
Oonchi naar kay oonchay chitvan,
Ayso diyo hai banaaye;
Shaah-e Amir tohay dekhan ko,
Nainon say naina milaaye,
Suhaagun, aaj basant manaalay.


Rejoice, my love, rejoice,
Its spring here, rejoice.
Bring out your lotions and toiletries,
And decorate your long hair.
Oh, you’re still enjoying your sleep, wake-up.
Even your destiny has woken up,
Its spring here, rejoice.
You snobbish lady with arrogant looks,
The King, Amir Khusrow is here to look at you;
Let your eyes meet his,
Oh my love, rejoice;
Its spring here again.


Sakal ban phool rahi sarson
Umbva boray, tesu phulay
Koyal bolay daar daar
Aur gori karat singaar
Malaniyan gadhwa laya ayin karson


Every field is filled with yellow mustard blooms,
Mango buds open, flame of the forest trees blossom,
Every branch echoes with the koyal’s call,
The lovely maiden dons her make-up,
The garden ladies bring fragrant bouquets.

(With the help from

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