Domanal is a village about 25 km north-east of Bijapur metropolis in North Karnataka. To succeed in Domanal, one has to get off the nationwide freeway going in the direction of Solapur and take the two km mud highway to the village. The inhabitants of the village as per the 2011 census is three,355.
It’s my father’s ancestral village; my grandfather was born right here after which adopted by his childless aunt from Jevoor, a village 60 km from Vijaypura (earlier generally known as Bijapur).
Throughout November yearly (after the primary full moon evening put up Diwali), this nondescript village transforms right into a vacation spot for the various devotees of the Sufi saint Dawal Malik. His urs (demise anniversary) is widely known in a dargah atop a hill right here. It’s fairly an occasion on this a part of the world, and particularly large for my household. As the owner group, who’re often known as Patels or Patils, our kin have been the custodians of the urs celebrations for generations now. However I had by no means paid consideration to this follow — till now.
Like most kids in hinterland India, about 20 years in the past, I escaped to the massive metropolis on the first alternative. Free from the diktats of traditions and household relations, the nameless life within the metropolis opened up a complete new world of concepts and prospects. However the political discourse lately, of how Hindu traditions are supreme and unique of others, jogged my memory of my household’s devoted following of the 19th-century Muslim saint Dawal Malik. I made a decision to make the journey again dwelling in November final yr and perceive this custom.
My father appeared unusually excited after I advised him about my plan to attend the urs — as a result of, in the end, the elusive son confirmed an curiosity in household rituals.
On the day of the urs, we employed an SUV, packed the complete household in it, and drove off to the dargah. The in any other case empty and dusty method highway to the village was unbelievably busy and delayed us by half an hour. The motorable highway to the highest of the hill was closed, so we needed to park on the foothills in a makeshift lot supervised by native boys.
After a kilometre-long stroll by way of a sea of individuals and the cacophony of stalls promoting meals objects equivalent to mirchi bhajjis, masala dosa, boondi laddoos, sugar toffees, plastic toys and framed images of Hindu gods, we reached the foothill. Through the climb, discovering area on the steps was harder than the precise job of conquering a hundred-odd steep steps. I used to be a bit stunned to search out hoardings of native BJP leaders alongside the way in which. Most likely this was a reminder that Sufi saints like Dawal Malik retain their cult standing and are revered by Hindus and Muslims alike regardless of the polarised political ambiance.
On the highest of the hill, amidst the sounds of shehnais and drums, there have been many providing deed namaskaras —101 prostrations on the way in which to the shrine (saint’s grave) as thanksgiving for prayers answered. Cries of ‘Dawal Maliki dost raha ho din’ may very well be heard in all places. A newly added hoarding defined the importance of the dargah to the village and to the Patil household and warned folks towards littering.
The shrine itself is a small sq. construction topped by a dome and tiny minarets on 4 corners. The dome and the minarets donned a recent coat of inexperienced paint whereas the remainder of the construction sizzled in white. A board inscribed with the names of donors held on a wall of the workplace — a single-room unit behind the shrine. Names of donors have been additionally etched on the stone pavement on the premises. Not surprisingly, the donors hailed from totally different religions and castes.
As we reached the shrine by way of the effectively managed queue, my mom handed over choices of coconuts, incense and galip (a chadar made with flowers) to the younger priest. My father apprised him of our household reference to the dargah and urged him to wish for us. The priest acknowledged his request with a smile, blessing us with a brush fabricated from peacock feathers. An enormous vessel in entrance of the shrine was crammed to the brim with maadli (a dry candy made with jaggery, damaged wheat and cardamom). My father advised me that this was the favorite meals of the saint and other people make it at dwelling and convey it as an providing.
The urs celebrations, known as regionally as jaatri, final 5 days. On the primary day, the dargah will get a brand new lime wash, and on the second day a procession of nagaris (drums) marches from the village to the dargah with choices of meals. On the third day, sandalwood paste is utilized to the grave of Dawal Malik as a mark of devotion and respect. On the identical day, maadli is shipped as an providing to the dargah from the home of the landlords. In accordance with my 85-year-old uncle, who has been the village panchayat chairman, most of the people isn’t allowed to ship in choices on the third day. The fourth day of the urs is when hundreds come visiting with meals, coconuts, incense, fruits and even sacrificial goats. Many households within the area, together with mine, observe the ritual of providing a goat to the dargah in the course of the urs. That is additionally the day when galip choices are made.
On the fourth evening, leisure programmes equivalent to performs and folks dances are held on the shrine premises. The principle occasion on the fifth and remaining day is a wrestling competitors (with a money prize for winners), for which a pit is dug within the premises of the dargah. A few younger males from the organising committee knowledgeable us that the variety of folks attending the cultural reveals and the wrestling matches has elevated through the years. This got here as a shock to me. I didn’t assume such programmes would entice crowds within the age of phone-led leisure.
Proper in entrance of the shrine is a lime-washed tower recognized regionally as malkambh. Folks gentle lamps that relaxation on its many arms. This ritual is noticed on all 5 days of the urs in addition to each new moon evening (amavasya).
Sitting beneath the massive tamarind tree subsequent to the shrine, munching on coconut, I watched Hindus and Muslims stand in the identical queue, awaiting their flip to supply presents and devotion to the identical saint. Later, over lunch at my uncle’s home within the farm, I requested him concerning the historical past of this follow. He thinks the dargah will need to have come into being after the saint’s demise within the late 19th century. He says his ancestors (Lingayats, a Hindu sect that worships Shiva) within the title of the dargah to assist pay for the urs celebrations yearly.
There’s additionally the story of Dhyamanagouda, considered one of our ancestors: He was arrested by the police in some case and is claimed to have been launched by the blessings of Dawal Malik Baba. Thus, whereas he was alive, he would climb up the dargah yearly handcuffed with flowers. I additionally discovered that our household lends tiny horses fabricated from silver to the dargah in the course of the festivities. Apparently, these horses signify the savaari (the trip) of the revered saint.
The Sufi tradition unfold in North Karnataka area in the course of the rule of the Bahmanis and the Adilshahis from the 14th century to the 17th century. In his seminal work Sufis of Bijapur, scholar Richard Eaton wrote extensively concerning the position of Sufis within the institution of the Adilshahi kingdom and in creating a brand new syncretic counterculture. Dawal Malik was in all probability one such proponent of Sufism. Right this moment, lots of of Sufi dargahs dot the arid panorama of the area
Though nobody might inform me when Dawal Malik truly got here to the village and from the place, he actually has left a legacy that epitomises the secular rules that India as soon as held pricey.
Basav Biradar is a author, researcher and documentary film-maker based mostly in Bengaluru