Tale of Basant Panchami and evolution of India's composite culture

New Delhi: The festival that colours everything in hues of yellow, bringing warmth and brightness with it - Basant Panchami - is being celebrated today across the country. 

On the festival, which is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the bright half of the "Magha" lunar month, people flock to marquees and temples, dressed in yellow attires offering prayers to the Goddess of knowledge, art and music- Maa Saraswati. 

Besides marking the onset of the Spring season, the occasion also highlights how people from different communities in the country have co-evolved through the course of the time. 

While Basant Panchmi is a Hindu festival, which is celebrated traditionally by offering special prayers to Goddess Saraswati. It is also known to hold eminence in some Muslim shrines of New Delhi. 

Renowned historian Rana Safvi, who is known for her popular blog. 'Hazrat e Dilli' told ANI about the events that trace back to the celebration of the Sufi Basant in Dargahs of New Delhi. 

As per Safvi, Sufi Basant is celebrated in five major Dargahs of Delhi since the 18th century and accounts of the same have been mentioned in a book - 'Muraqqa-e-Delhi'. 

"We have accounts from the 18th century that describes that the Basant was celebrated in New Delhi, all the way from Paharganj's Dargah Qadam Sharif to Mehrauli's Dargah Hazrat Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki RA' said Safvi. 

"It was celebrated in five major Dargahs in Delhi and it would go on from one to another. Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia was the one who started the whole practice," she added. 

Celebration of the festival in one of the greatest Sufi shrines - Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah - revolves around a tale. the historian said. 

According to her, Delhi's Chishti Saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia after the death of his young nephew, Taqiuddin Nooh was heavily stricken by grief. 

"He was very upset and was grieving and mourning him for a long time. He wasn't smiling or doing anything: said Safvi. Further explaining the tale, the historian said that one day the saint's disciple Amir Khusrow saw some women wearing yellow clothes, carrying mustard flowers walking and singing. 

"He asked them about where they were going, they said, they were going to offer flowers on Basant Panchmi to the God and after that, he also got dressed in yellow saree and carried those mustard flowers and went to Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia which brought a smile to the Saints face," said Safvi. 

Safvi further said that the festival of Basant is still being celebrated at the Nizamuddin Dargah. "Qawwals gather together in one of the lanes in the basti and from there they walk singing the qaymalis they go to the grave of the nephew of the saint and then they eventually come to the dargah," said Rana Safvi. 

Qawwals in yellow outfits carry mustard, flowers and offer yellow coloured sacred chaadar at the shrine. 

Another interesting detail that Safvi shared is that the Basant festival is the only time of the year when singing is allowed inside the shrine which is otherwise done outside in the courtyard.

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