Friday 28 December 2012

The City of Djinns

It is the capital of India and it has been the theatre of war for centuries. It has been ruled by a number of dynasties and all conquerors, including the British, realised the importance of gaining a foothold over Delhi.
Delhi is a city of cities and you have many interesting historical, religious monuments and scores of ruins. Some of the ruins like those at Indraprastha go back to the times of the Mahabharata.
The city of the Red Fort and Qutb Minar has its own charm and hoary past.  Delhi has a monument to almost each year or rather decade of its existence.
A few days ago, one of my friends was waking across the Feroz Shah Kotla when he saw a crowd of people. He assumed that the crowd might have come from the nearby Cricket Stadium.
He was stunned when told that this was not a cricket loving crowd but one that prayed to the Djinns who are supposed to make every wish of a human come true.
The explanation stumped my friend and he looked around in disbelief. It was very difficult for him to digest the fact that people in the national capital believed such things and that too in the 21st century.
I told him that what he had heard and saw was true. Delhi is also known as the City of Djinns and this goes back centuries ago.
The ruined city of Feroz Shah Kotla is adjacent to the cricket stadium. This was the Ferozabad that was built between 1354 and 1356 by Feroz Shah Tughlaq, the successor of Mohammad Bin Tughlaq.
Feroz ruled from Delhi between 1351 and 1388. He built the imposing citadel of the Kotla in 1354 but the City quickly fell into ruins once his reigns ended. Today, the ruins are just off the Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.         
Djinns are said to be found in plenty in these ruins. Every Thursday, Delhi witnesses one of the largest gatherings of people, praying and writing to the Djinns to fulfill their wishes.
Even the authorities seem to have resigned themselves to the large number of people who throng the ruins on Thursday afternoon by throwing it open for free. During al other times, you have to shell out Rs. 5 to stroll among the ruins.
Islam says Allah made Djinns out of smokeless fire before he made humans out of clay. Djinns are not supposed to have any shape  or form. They can live for centuries. However, they have a very human character. They can be moody or even bad in character.
The gathering assembles before the 13 meter high sandstone Ashoka Pillar on a rubble-built three-tiered pyramidal structure. Feroz transported this 27 tonne pillar in 1356 to Delhi from Topar in Ambala, where Emperor Ashoka had installed it.
There are inscriptions on the Pillar which are believed to be incantations. Some of the inscriptions are in Sanskrit and many other inscriptions are unreadable.
People believe that if they come here and pray, the Djinns help them, get rod of their troubles and they even help human beings get rid of ghosts and spirits.
When the evening fades away, the people too move away slowly, with a heartfelt prayer on their lips to the Djinns. Locals say the practice of writing to the Djinns started in the 70s when a fakir caked Ladoo Shah lived in these ruins.
The wall near the pillar is full of requests to Djinns on a variety of topics. The old well or Baoli nearby gives a creepy look to the entire area.
The mosque adjacent to the well is one of the biggest buildings of the Tughlaq period. Talk to the Imam of the mosque about the Djinns and you are bound to be surprised.

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