Mumbai: Mahim Fair To Start On December 26; Lakhs Expected To Visit

Mumbai: Mahim Fair To Start On December 26; Lakhs Expected To Visit

The event will start with a procession of personnel from the Mahim police station walking to the shrine bearing gifts of a chadar, a shawl to cover the tomb, and scented offerings.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Monday, December 25, 2023, 07:26 PM IST
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Prayers, Food, & Games: Lakhs Expected To Visit Mahim Fair That Starts Tomorrow | Salman Ansari

The 10-day annual fair at the dargah of  Makhdum Ali Mahimi at Mahim will start on December 27 as it has always, with a procession of personnel from the Mahim police station walking to the shrine bearing gifts of a chadar, a shawl to cover the tomb, and scented offerings. The fair starts six days after the Urs, or the death anniversary of the saint which was observed last week. 

The shrine of Makhdum Ali Mahimi

The shrine is revered as the tomb of a religious scholar believed to have lived between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Stories of miraculous cures bring thousands of pilgrims to the dargah which is the city’s second-most-visited Sufi shrine after the Haji Ali dargah.

Salman Ansari

The shrine observed the saint’s 610th death anniversary or Urs on December 21 which corresponded to the eighth day of the Islamic month Jamadul Akhir which began on December 14. The Urs began last week with the unfurling of the national flag and singing of the song ‘Sare jahan se acha’. This is followed by the raising of the flags of the police and the dargah.  

Event is a ‘gazetted mela'

Sohail Khandwani, trustee of the Pir Makhdum Saheb Charitable Trust, said that the fair that takes place around the shrine during the Urs is a ‘gazetted mela’ as the event is listed in government gazettes from the pre-independence days. “The fair started in 1910, so this is the 113th year,” said Khandwani.  

For a religious place, the shrine has an unusual feature – a copy of the preamble to the Constitution of India mounted on the wall near the Ashtana or the shrine’s inner sanctum which houses the saint’s tomb.

Fair preparations

Fair preparations | Salman Ansari

Mansoor Khan of the Sufi Islamic Board said that the idea behind placing the preamble’s copy is to show that no place in the country is untouched by the theme of nationalism. “As things are today, shrines are shown in a negative light. We have to show that there is no religious discrimination at this place. Dargahs are inclusive and embracers of national culture,” explained Khan.  

More about ‘Mahim ka Mela’

Apart from the spiritual aspects of the festival, the ‘Mahim ka Mela’, organised like a carnival, is an attraction for visitors. As the number of visitors to the fair has grown, the event, which was once confined to the narrow Dargah Street, has shifted to Balamia Street and extends to Mahim Beach. More than five lakh people are expected to visit the fair.

Ashraf Ahmed Shaikh, a lawyer and resident of Mahim said, “It is like a traditional fair, with amusement rides. Shopkeepers come from all over India to sell different kinds of food. The main dish at the fair is ‘Halwa Paratha’. As kids we were excited about the fair,” said Shaikh.

There is no authentic record of how the Mumbai police became involved with the shrine’s annual festival, but it is said that personnel prayed to the saint when there was a particularly difficult crime case to be investigated. Other than the police, officials from the traffic police, the Brihahmumbai Municipal Corporation, and the Mumbai Port Trust are involved in managing traffic and stalls at the fair.  

 1st dargah trust to get an ISO certification in 2007

The shrine is the first dargah trust to get an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification in 2007 for management practices. The certificate has been renewed till July 2025. The certificate acknowledges the trust’s calibre in organising the Urs, the religious research it facilitates, and the library services charity activities of the trust.

The shrine houses a 600-year-old Quran believed to have been written by the saint. An annual exposition called the ‘Quran Sharief Ziyarat’ is held on a day in the month of Ramzan when the book is displayed to the faithful for a few hours. During the rest of the year, the book is kept in a silver box in the Ashtana. The shrine’s managers said that the book was stitched together a century ago with pages written by the saint. 

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