Srinagar, Sep 30: Keeping up with Kashmir’s centuries-old tradition, Khoje Digar, the special Asar (late afternoon) prayers were offered at the shrine of Naqashbandh Sahab (RA) at Khawaja Bazaar, Nowhatta, in Srinagar downtown on Friday.
In the 400-year-old Kashmiri tradition, thousands of devotees thronged the revered shrine for the congregational Asar prayers and offered the special ‘Khoje Digar’ prayers.
Noted Kashmiri poet, writer, and satirist, Zareef Ahmad Zareef told Greater Kashmir that the roots of the tradition go back to Bukhara where Hazrat Bahauddin Naqashbandi (RA) used to hold special sermons on Asar prayers.
“Then the Naqashbandi saints like Khawaja Khawand Mahmood (RA) continued it in Kashmir. I remember how as a kid we considered the event holy and people used to prepare themselves for the event. Unfortunately, now it has been reduced to just a tradition but still some people hold this event very close to their heart,” Zareef said.
He said that in Sufi tradition, the saints believed that the time of Asar was very important when all prayers would get answered.
Zareef said that for centuries, special sermons and other events used to be held on the day.
The J&K Waqf Board officials said that special arrangements were made in coordination with all the departments to ensure that the devotees did not face any inconvenience.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, J&K Waqf Board Chairperson Darakshan Andrabi said that she took stock of the arrangements and coordinated with all the concerned departments.
“The weather was good and we coordinated with the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), Power Development Department (PDD), Jal Shakti Department, and other departments so that special arrangements were made for the day. All the concerned departments of Srinagar district cooperated in a nine manner to ensure smooth arrangements for the event,” Andrabi said.
Meanwhile, officials of the SMC said that they carried out special cleanliness drives on the premises of the shrine and its adjacent areas.
They said that men and machinery were put in place to ensure clean surroundings.
Officials of the Traffic Police said that they have deployed more manpower to regulate the traffic and ensure no inconvenience was caused during the event.
SSP Traffic Srinagar, Muzaffar Shah told Greater Kashmir that they had put necessary diversions in place to regulate the traffic.
“In collaboration with Police in Srinagar, we put more men on the ground to regulate the traffic on ‘Khoje Digar,’” Shah said.
Every year thousands of people from Srinagar and other districts throng the shire of Naqashband Sahab (RA) to participate in the traditional Khoje Digar.
Special sermons are held to mark the day.
“We have been coming here for decades to participate in ‘Khoje Digar’ prayers. For decades, I have seen the devotees offering special prayers here. Due to the huge rush of devotees, the shrine gets packed and prayer mats are laid on the roads to offer prayers. Every year I make sure to be present at the event and ask for forgiveness,” said Yaqoob Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar downtown.