Though smoking or drinking at any religious place can offend many believers at Captain Baba’s mausoleum in Lucknow, offering cigarettes is a gesture of respect.
It is believed all prayers can be answered on lighting cigarettes a la joss sticks. And, a large number of Hindus and Muslims do so while visiting this sacred mausoleum in Lucknow.
Everyday, hundreds of cigarettes are offered by devotees who visit this place to seek blessings of Captain Baba.
"One of my uncles told me that many of his wishes were fulfilled once he visited Captain Baba's shrine. I accompanied him on the first occasion. Now, I am regular visitor. All wishes are fulfilled here", said Ram Gopal Pal, a devotee.
It is said Gore Baba alias Mohammad Ashim, worked as Captain in the British Army when the British ruled India. He died during the uprising of 1857. But he had a special liking for the “Capstan” brand of cigarette.
After his death, a mausoleum was built and today it is revered as “Captain Baba’s Dargarh”. As he was known for smoking cigarettes, the followers started a convention to offer the same at his mausoleum.
The devotees bring this particular brand as their expression of affection for the Baba.
Gore Baba was a highly respected person and some believed he had divine qualities. Later, admirers started calling him Captain Baba.
Every Thursday, there is a big rush at Captain Baba’s mausoleum and all visitors, irrespective of caste or creed, come along their cigarettes.
"We have deep faith in Baba. He is near to God. However, we are just his devotees who come here to seek blessing for ourselves and our children," said Aquil Ahmed, a devotee.
"After lighting the cigarette, I express my desires to Baba. The wishes are fulfilled, so we have faith in Baba", said Nazim Ali, a devotee.
People light the cigarettes and insert them in cracked crevices on Captain Baba’s grave, just like incense sticks are lit at mausoleums.