Mumbai News: Devotees Celebrate The ‘Sultan Of Dongri’

Mumbai News: Devotees Celebrate The ‘Sultan Of Dongri’

Pir Sayyad Abdur Rahman Shah shrine concludes 109th Urs, or death anniversary, of the saint

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Sunday, November 26, 2023, 10:27 PM IST
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Pir Sayyad Abdur Rahman Shah shrine at Dongri | FPJ

Mumbai: Unlike the more famous dargahs in the city like Haji Ali and Makhdoom Ali at Mahim, which honour saints who lived at least five centuries ago, the Pir Sayyad Abdur Rahman Shah shrine at Dongri, Central Mumbai, is dedicated to a more contemporary holy man who lived just over a hundred years ago.

The dargah concluded its 109th Urs, or death anniversary, of the saint on Saturday after a 10-day celebration that brought thousands of devotees who sought the saint’s help in their prayers.

‘Sultan of Dongri’

The mystic, called the ‘Sultan of Dongri’ by his followers, like other holy men and women revered by the Sufi sect, is an Aulik or ‘friend of god’, said Usman Chisti, a member of the Dongri dargah trust. “People use him as Wasila, or intermediary, to communicate with God. They ask him to pray for them. People come with all kinds of prayer,” Chisti said.

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The mystic’s origins are not well documented, but shops and homes in the street where the shrine is located display his photographs. Devotees said that it is believed that he came from Salem in Tamil Nadu and taught the Quran to the children in the area.

Saeed Chottani, one of the followers of the saint, said that his great-grandfather Mian Mohammed Chottani, a timber merchant, travelled from his house in Agripada to Dongri to take counsel from the holy man. “He received the saint’s blessing and advice,” Chottani said.

When the Saint passed away, Milan Mohammed Chottani was among the disciples who built the shrine above his tomb.

Mystical connection between dargah and policemen

The dargah is one of two in the city with an association with a police station – the other one is at Mahim. The chilla or the place where he used to meditate is located in the compound of Dongri police station. The story is that the saint was once arrested by the colonial-era police during an independence protest. He was locked up in the station but was found sitting on a stone slab under a tree in the compound. “The police locked him up again in the room, only to find him outside,” Chisti said.

The exasperated police are reported to have consulted the local residents, who said he was a maverick holy man. Since then, the policemen at Dongri have been his followers. On the fifth day of the Urs, policemen carry headloads of sandal or perfumed offerings to be offered to the saint. A similar ritual takes place during the annual Urs of the Mahim dargah.

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