Hidden behind the shops of the famous Adhchini market on Sri Aurobindo Marg is an 800-year-old dargah. The board outside the mausoleum of Mai Sahiba, the mother of the 14th century Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya often goes unnoticed amid the hullabaloo of the market. The adjoining colony that came up a few years ago dwarfs the tomb. Today, one reaches the Adhchini dargah after maneuvering the maze of the colony.
Old timers recall that the dargah would be visible from Mehrauli when the surrounding area used to be a farmland. It was known as Sarai Namak.“We used to travel by bullock carts and this road led to Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. The tomb used to shine like a pole star, but it is now lost amidst these concrete structures,” said Syed Aamir Ali Nizami, in charge, Dargah Sharif.
Buried in her own house, Hazrat Mai Sahiba Bibi Zulekha passed away in 1250, long before her son came to be known as a great mystic. The dargah committee is geared up to celebrate 779th Urs of Mai Sahiba from March 9 to 11. The dargah will be decorated with roses and qawwals from all over the world will offer their prayers in an overnight recital of love songs to mark the death anniversary of the great woman. The three-day celebrations will begin with special prayers. Vegetarian food and Mai Sahiba’s favourite dishes, chanaa and aloo pulao known as tehri, will be distributed among devotees.
The shrine is visited by hundreds of devotees especially women following a belief that Mai Sahiba cannot bear the sorrow of women and bestows her blessings on them. Wednesdays are considered to be Mai Sahiba’s worship days and every week more than 5,000 devotees come here. The dargah has a covered verandah and a mosque, which has a framed picture of Kaaba and houses the tomb of Mai Sahiba’s daughter Bibi Zenab and two of her closest caretakers, Hoor and Noor.
“It is that on the 29th of every month of the Islamic calendar when the moon is new, Hazrat Nizamuddin would visit his mother and offer prayers. He used to reside at Chilla Sharif behind Humayun’s Tomb and Yamuna flowed alongside his abode. They would sit and talk for hours,” said Nizami, one of the doctors at the dargah’s charitable trust.
After Mai Sahiba was widowed at an early age, she brought her son to Adhchini for his education. There were days when the family had nothing to eat. On the days when the son was starving, Mai Sahiba would tell him that they were God’s guests. Nizamuddin Auliya was overwhelmed by the spiritual nourishment which was more fulfilling than food. “When will we be Allah’s guest again?” he would often ask his mother.
“Nobody’s prayers go unanswered at Mai Sahiba’s dargah. This place is of historical relevance as well as has a great architectural value and yet it has disappeared in the hustle bustle of the city. People should be encouraged to visit this hidden marvel,” said Suhail Ali, a devotee from Adhchini.