Purdah Wali Mazaar & deities
THE GARHI, an ancient fortress-like structure at Khanu Gaon (Bhopal) that is a melting point of beliefs in a single complex, remains shrouded in myth and mystery for centuries.india Updated: Apr 18, 2006 13:46 IST
THE GARHI, an ancient fortress-like structure at Khanu Gaon (Bhopal) that is a melting point of beliefs in a single complex, remains shrouded in myth and mystery for centuries.
The structure that has umpt-een mazaars including that of four siblings—three brothers and a sister on each corner—apart from several Hindu deities, apparently from the era of Gonds, intrigues locals and visitors with its uniqueness and the legends surrounding it.
Reflection of communal harmony
NOT MANY residents outside Khanu Gaon are aware that such a structure that is a reflection of communal harmony exists in the Capital. Although the Garhi has survived centuries of neglect and apathy, the last few decades have taken its toll on the fortress.
Drug-addicts have made the top floor of the Garhi their den. Popular legends about the Garhi have survived for centuries. "So many people came here and had their wishes fulfilled in the past but with expansion of population this structure that was once in the forest came amid a maze of structures and lies almost forgotten," Habib Khan says adding, "It is a lesson for people how Hindu deities and Muslim saints live in perfect harmony unlike common folk who often get into conflicts over religion."
The fact that no male can visit the mazaar of the ‘sister’ that is cordoned off in a corner and is popularly known as ‘purdah wali mazaar’ to pay obeisance adds to the mystique of this complex. “Even pregnant women are not allowed to visit the sister’s mazaar because of the strict purdah as the child in the womb can be a male,” say residents.
The ancient mosque that has been renovated stands in the centre of the ruined structure that is clearly of the Gond-era. “Nowhere will you find so many mazaars and a mosque alongside Hindu Gods,” says Habib Khan, who retired from a well-known NGO two years ago and now takes care of the mazaars.
“We heard from our forefathers that centuries ago, the family of Sufis had come and made this abandoned structure their home,”he adds. “Even our great grandfathers told us the same story but we know nothing about the family or their names except that the siblings are buried on the corners and the uncles and other relatives elsewhere”.
Elderly Ismail, a resident of Khanu Gaon, says Garhi is not known to people outside this hamlet on the outskirts of the State Capital. “During Muharram, the ‘sawaris’ come here to pay obeisance first and then move on,” adds a local resident.
“Earlier, an exceptionally big copy of Holy Quran was kept on the first floor rampart that required two persons to turn every page but later it was sent to Mecca during the era of Begums,” says Bashir Khan.