'Maula Salim Chishti, Aaqa Salim Chishti...', from the movie Garam Hawa (1973), has been my all-time favourite qawwali.. I was just 15 then and at that age, you don't go watching such movies. Much later, I started liking this qawwali and searched for its VCD. It was no where available.
A search on Google revealed that the movie was one of the best produced by Indian cinema. My desire to watch it increased. I contacted many websites, which promised to supply its VCD as and when available.
But those were just promises. I even tried to contact MS Sathyu, its director. It became known that parts of the movie existed in 16mm spools and were on the verge of extinction. Till date, I remain divested of watching it.
Though I liked the qawwali so much, it never occurred to me to ever visit the famous Dargah of Salim Chishti in Ajmer. The song 'Kun Faya Kun' from Rockstar generated that desire in me for the first time.
The director had recorded the song beautifully and an unmatched aura had been built. And then on a long weekend, I headed for Ajmer and Pushkar along with my family members.
For excursions, I prefer to move in a group. It is always fun even if there is not much to see or enjoy. The more, the merrier. We were 11 in number, of all ages, ranging from 20 to 80.
Before leaving, I shared my plan with a friend. "Take care of your finger rings and bracelets!" he advised. "There is always a huge rush at the Dargah. You never know when your rings and bracelets go missing." I laughed it off.
A day before visiting the Dargah, my friends' advice reverberated in my ears. I shared it with the group members. They took it seriously. Some took the rings and bracelets off. I have never worn a ring or a neck chain.
I had given up wearing even a watch after the advent of the mobile phone. So I had nothing at stake.
My sister however preferred to wear a bracelet. "I can't keep my arms bare," she announced firmly.
The Dargah of Khwaja Salim Chishti is famous for fulfilment of 'mannat'. Each one of us thought of one. At the Dargah, we bought 'chaadars' and roses. Male members bought Muslim caps and donned them, looking every inch a Muslim. Then we entered the Dargah premises.
There was a huge rush. Jostling with others, we entered the premises and offered the 'chaadars' with all devotion and respect. There was a huge rush as expected. Two boys guarding the crowd were guiding the visitors towards the exit.
We didn't know when we found ourselves outside the Dargah. Before leaving, we paid our respect to this place of worship. Then we proceeded towards the main exit.
As we left the premises, my sister searched her arm. The bracelet was missing. Everyone was stunned.
It was a thick and heavy bracelet with every inch of it glittering. The tour had lost all its joy.
Then, she smiled. "Thank God, I had worn an artificial one. It wasn't of much cost. Had I worn the original one…" and she shivered. There were wide smiles in the group. Profusely thankful to my friend who had tendered timely advice to us, we headed back to the hotel.