Tehelka – India's Independent Weekly News Magazine

Matter of faith A moulvi at a Sufi shrine Photo: Faisal Khan

From Tehelka Magazine,
31 Mar 2012

Wahhabis. Deobandis. Tablighi Jamaat. Orthodox outfits have been turning the Valley into a bastion of puritanical Islam. But the Sufis are fighting back to regain their moorings.

By Riyaz Wani

A COLOURFUL procession stretched a mile long along the picturesque Dal lake. A truck carrying preachers in green turbans was followed by thousands of faithfuls waving green flags. Some people were busy at makeshift kitchens on the roadside where tehri (turmeric-dyed rice), salt tea and kehwa were served to the devotees.

The occasion was not a political rally but the celebration of Eid Milad (Prophet’s birthday) on 12 February. Organised by Minhajul Islam, a newly-floated Barelvi outfit, the procession was a not-so-veiled attempt to reassert the Valley’s Sufi tradition and reclaim the religious space ceded to the conservative Wahhabi Islam. It was the first time in the past two decades that the festival attracted such a massive crowd — estimated to be around 1 lakh people.

Similar events were held at shrines housing the Prophet’s relics. Bazaars and government offices were lit up, adding to the festive air. Understandably, this uninhibited display of festivities didn’t go down well with the adherents of puritanical Islam, who want celebrations to be “austere and exclusively devoted to worship”.

Read more of this article via Tehelka – India’s Independent Weekly News Magazine.

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