Annual Functions at the Shrine of Syed Bahauddin (R.A.)

Annual Functions at the Shrine of Syed Bahauddin (R.A.)
GK Photo

By Toibah Kirmani

The holy shrine of Syed Bahauddin Bagdadi Al Maroofi Rumi (R.A.) at Batpora Magam, which is located five and a half kilometres from the historical town Handwara in District Kupwara, J&K, hosts two religious celebrations each year.

During the reign of Hindu King Udyana Deva and Kota Rani (1323-1338 AD), Syed Bahauddin and his Khalifa (disciple), Ubaid-ullah Qureshi, travelled to Kashmir from Baghdad to preach Islam. The two missionaries initially stayed in Srinagar, moved to Kamraz (North Kashmir) in Uttar, and then finally settled in Batpora Magam. After Syed Bahauddin and his disciple Ubaid-ullah Qureshi settled in this area, the habitation was originally known as "Syed Muqam," and the locality was given the name "Batpora" when the Pandits from the adjoining village of Shehlal relocated there.

Syed Bahauddin and his disciple Ubaid-ullah Qureshi spent their entire life for propagating the message of Islam in nearby localities and major conversions to Islam took place during this period.

Syed Bahauddin (R.A) and his disciples belonged to Hanafi school of thought and Qadri Spiritual Order. Syed Bahauddin was not only an erudite scholar of Arabic and Persian languages but was a great scholar of Quran and Hadith and also an expert of Masnavi of Moulana Rumi.

Syed Bahauddin (R.A) and his disciple Ubaid-ullah Qureshi, both hailed from Baghdad and are said to be the first settlers of the village. The first mosque/khanqah in the area was built in village Batpora, Magam which served as a centre of spreading and practicing the message of Islam in the area and also in the adjoining localities. Renowned Islamic scholars and saints used to visit the shrine in the past. As a matter of respect and regard to Syed Bahauddin (R.A), Sheikh Noorudin Noorani Rishi called the village as Hazrat-i-Batpora meaning respectful Batpora.

After Syed Bahauddin passed away, his Khalifa (disciple), Ubaid-ullah Qureshi, continued to spread the word of Islam. In Batpora Magam, Syed Bahauddin is buried, and in his reverence, a shrine has been constructed over his grave.

Astaan Kath:

At the Shrine of Syed Bahauddin, two annual functions are celebrated every year in which Muslims and people of other faiths participate in large numbers. The urs (annual death anniversary) is celebrated in the month of November (mostly on 15/16 November), 15th of poh of Kashmiri Bikrami calender in which the inhabitants of village Batpora and Daie Mohalla (Shiekh Mohala) of Neelipora participate.

The yearly urs ceremony also used to be attended by the Hindus of the village of Batpora. The Urs festival has traditionally been commemorated on the death anniversary of Syed Bahauddin.

On this occasion, generally, the village community, or “muhalla baradari,” arrange and sacrifice sheep and in the evening, they collectively have their evening meals in the premises of the shrine. Following the Asar prayers, a small religious ceremony is held in the shrine. Participants pray to Allah for the forgiveness of the dead as well as for the welfare of the general populace. This is a day-long function and concludes with collective prayers to Allah for forgiveness and for granting peace and solace to the departed souls. Tributes are also paid to Syed Bahauddin Rumi (R.A) and his disciples for their services in the spread of Islam.

Bhandar:

Another function is held in the month of Saavan/July every year. In the past, all villages of Block Magam consisting of around 20 villages would participate in this Allaqayi function called "Bhandara" in common parlance. The function was originally started in 1901 by Bikrami. It was started by Zaildar of Magam on the behest of Mir Sidiq Sahab of Magam.

It is said that in the said year an epidemic had spread in the area and it severely affected the villages of Wagath, Warpora, and Shehlal. In order to get rid of this epidemic, Sadiq Mir Sahab, a Sufi Saint of the Naqshbandi Sufi order, enjoined upon the Zaildar of Magam to set up and organise Bhandaar (collective charity) at the shrine of Syed Bahauddin, where locals would assemble for collective remembrance and repentance before Allah, the Almighty. Accordingly, the event was planned with the help of the local Lambardars and Chokidars, and government employees posted in the area also assisted in the organizing religious gathering.

Both Hindus and Muslims participated in this long-day religious function. After that, it became a regular annual function of the entire allaqa Magam to celebrate this said function at the Shrine of Syed Bahauddin every year in July in which prayers are generally made for rainfall and safety from epidemics and other calamities. The aforementioned Alaqaai religious function was temporarily discontinued during the turbulent 1990s. However, it has been revived and is now observed locally since 2000. Along with forgiveness and remembering Allah, religious scholars often preach on many subjects and significant social and moral issues.

In both these annual functions, the mutwalis/caretakers of the Shrine, belonging to the Qureshi family, have been shouldering the responsibility of making necessary arrangements for the successful conduct of religious cum spiritual functions on the said occasions. They have been performing the duties traditionally. On the premises of Syed Bahauddin Batpora Magam, a two-story building has been recently constructed for facilitating the smooth celebration of the functions and a library has also been established with the support and patronage of mutwalis.

Reference: Mr. G.A. Qureshi, the Chief Mutwali of the Shrine, who is also authoring a Comprehensive book on the aforementioned subject and is the former Director General of Economics and Statistics J&K.

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