2,000 kg biryani for 20,000 people marks death anniversary of Sufi saint Babajan in Pune
Every year, Hazrat Babajan Trust and the Bazme Islah Social Welfare put out a notice on the dargah that invites people to contribute to the Urs dinnerUpdated: Feb 03, 2018 20:30 IST
Huge handis (cooking pots) cover the ground of the Babajan Trust compound. 15 cooks man those handis. And a whopping 2,000 kgs of biryani is dished out to nearly 20,000 people who ate at the Urs to mark the Sufi saint, Babajan’s 87th death anniversary.
It started 40 years ago when the Hazrat Babajan Trust and the Bazme Islah Social Welfare began to mark the death anniversary of Babajan. Babajan was a Sufi saint who was born on July 16, 1806 and died on September 21, 1931 according to Nasir Khan who is the president of Bazme Islah. “At that time we made 35 kgs of biryani and distributed it to whoever came to pay respects to Babajan. But today this has grown to 2,000 kgs,” said Nasir, beaming with pride.
Every year, the Trust puts out a notice on the Dargah that invites people to contribute to the Urs dinner. “And people from all communities come forth to donate. Some give cash, some donate rice, or live animals that are then used to make the biryani. This year the Bazme Islah collected 1,800 kgs of rice and 2,200 kgs of meat (as live animals). In fact just one person, Prakash Chabbria donated 1,000 kgs of rice. The balance material that is 200 kgs of rice, 600 kgs of meat and the oil, masala we bought from the ₹1.5 lakhs that we collected,” he said.
What is it that propels people to donate, work, and serve at this Urs? Says Salim Patel, a committee member of Bazme Islah, “There are so many ‘miracles’ people have experienced. People who can’t have children, or have a health problem, or can’t get married, all have received Babajan’s blessings. And it is not linked to one community alone. People from all religious communities come here to seek her blessings. So it is only natural that when we put out the notice asking for donations our coffers are filled to the brim”
Ikraam Shaikh is the man who with his team of 15 cooks made the 2,000 kgs of biryani. “We had to chop 800 kgs of onions some of which we did by hand and some by the machine. We got the handis from Natraj Sugandhalay Centre, and made all the preparations the night before. In the morning at 7 am we started cooking the biryani,” he said. By early evening they had finished and of the 2,000 kgs, we donated 300 kgs to all the Muslim Girls’ orphanages. The rest was distributed after the prayers to Babajan which were completed by 8pm.
The road from Charbawdi police chowky to Bhopla chowk was shut down for traffic. “The police are most helpful. This helps us lay down the chattais on the road for people to sit. The food is served on thaals or large community plates so that at least five people can eat at once,” Nasir said. The Trust has hired 350 such thaals, and about 25 women who will wash the dishes after each lot finishes eating. Women sit separately in the lane adjacent to the Trust compound.
Loud music that is part of most community celebrations is completely missing. “Since the last five years we have stopped playing any music. It disturbs the residents and we don’t want to create noise pollution. Our celebrations are a quiet affair,” Nasir said.
Besides feeding Pune’s devotees, the Trust aims to set up a medical facility on the lines of the one set up by the Sadhu Vaswani Trust. “We have a lot of donors who are interested in helping us set up this facility. We aim to provide basic healthcare to anyone who avails it, from dental to diagnostics. We plan to have this set up at Ambedkar Hall (which is behind the Dargah). Let’s see, we hope Babajan’s blessings will take this initiative ahead,” Nasir said.