Sunday, May 01, 2011

Ashtur, a centre of syncretic worship

A centre of syncretic worship


A tradition:Shivaraya Swami of Madyal participating in the rituals at the tomb of Sultan Ahmed Shah Ali Behmani during the fair at Ashtur in Bidar on Wednesday.
Bidar: The annual ‘urs' and jatra of Sultan Ahmed Shah Ali Behmani, the medieval ruler of Bidar, is being celebrated at Ashtur this week.

Ashtur, a village on the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border, is a centre of syncretic worship. The urs of Ahmed Shah has some unique rituals in which members of both Hindu and Muslim communities participate.

Ahmed Shah, called Wali or saint by his subjects, was known for promoting arts, music and literature. Medieval historians such as Farishta say he was a benevolent king.

The Hindus believe he was an incarnation of Lord Mallikarjuna. The urs is held according to the lunar calendar and is usually celebrated in the last week of March or first week of April.

This year, the urs began with village people washing the tomb with rose water and reading verses from the Koran as part of the Sandal Sharief.

They also lit lamps around the tomb.

Others sang praises of the king in their late-night bhajans and performed ‘aarti'.

Inauguration

A unique feature of this urs is that the celebrations are inaugurated by Shivaraya Swami of Madyal in Gulbarga district. He comes to Ashtur on horseback and performs a pooja at the tomb.

He stays there for six days before leaving for Gulbarga.

He and his followers have camped in tents near the royal well in front of the tomb.

Meanwhile, vendors have set up stalls in the area.

There would be a wrestling match on Thursday, the last day of the event, Mutavvali Khalil Behmani said.

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