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Gorakhpur Imambara: Burning for 250 years, flames of faith offer miracle hope

A bonfire lit by a Sufi saint is burning continuously for nearly 250 years at Gorakhpur’s historic imambara and draws people of all faiths, the Imambara estate and the faithful claim.

lucknow Updated: Sep 13, 2018 12:26 IST
Abdul Jadid
Abdul Jadid
Hindustan Times, Gorakhpur
Flames,Miracle hope,Gorakhpur Imambara
The dhuni ( bonfire ) lit by Sufi saint Raushan Ali Shah is said to be burning for 250 years at Gorakhpur’s historic imambara.(HT Photo)

A bonfire lit by a Sufi saint is burning continuously for nearly 250 years at Gorakhpur’s historic imambara and draws people of all faiths, the Imambara estate and the faithful claim.

The devout come here to collect the ashes from the bonfire in the belief that it has miraculous powers to cure ailments.

The faithful say Baghdad-based Sufi saint Raushan Ali Shah lit the bonfire (dhuni) at the imambara site, which was then a jungle, to meditate. The flames have never been extinguished since then, they add.

Mia Sahab Adnan Farrukh, the sixth successor of the Imambara Estate, says: “Distressed people of all faiths come here and sit around the dhuni (bonfire) to seek the blessings of the saint, especially during Moharram.”

Even today, logs are placed on a regular basis in the dhuni to keep it burning slowly. A pucca structure shelters it from the elements.

It was on the wish of the saint that the Nawab of Oudh Asaf-Ud-Daula built the imambara in memory of the Prophet’s grandson Imam Hussain, the faithful say.

Syed Iqbal, a devotee, says,“ Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daula met the saint when he (the nawab) lost his way while hunting in the jungles. The saint was meditating without clothes in winter. When the nawab offered his blanket to the saint, he put it in to the bonfire lit near him. This made the nawab angry, but the saint performed a miracle by putting his hand into the fire and bringing out

many similar blankets. Impressed by divine power, the nawab asked the saint to make a wish, and built the imambara to fulfil his wish.”

It took 12 years to build the imambara, spread over six acres, and the task was completed in 1796.

“It’s a centre of devotion and a lot of people get peace and their wishes are fulfilled here. We burn incense sticks and recite holy verses of the Quran,” says Syed Qamar, another devotee.

The imambara also houses the personal belongings of the saint such as hookah, a khadaun (wooden slippers) and bowl.

A wooden tazia and other antiques items are kept in a museum , which is opened for public viewing during Moharram.

Two gold and silver tazias, which were gifted to saint by Nawab’s wife, are also the centre of attraction.

Renowned Urdu writer Dr Darakshan Tajwar, who has done a lot of work on the 1857 revolt, says, “Kasahaf-ul-Bhaghawat, a book on the 1857 revolt penned by Syed Ahmed Ali Shah, the second successor of the Estate, has a detailed description of the saint who came to India to spread the message of humanity. Syed Ahmed Ali Shah was the nephew of Raushan Ali Shah. The nawab, who was impressed with the divinity of the saint, got the Imambara built.” The Moharram procession, which is led by the current successor of the imambara estate, is famous across UP and people from far-off areas come here to see it.

First Published: Sep 13, 2018 12:26 IST