Kashmir Shrine Attracts Devotees, Offerings Over Rumour

23 April 2008

Srinagar: Hundreds of people offered rice and money at a shrine here Wednesday following rumours that a Sufi saint had asked all couples with a lone son to donate generously. The story spread across the ashmir Valley was that Ahad Sahib, a popular Sufi saint from north Kashmir’s Sopore town, had a dream and asked all parents who had a lone son to offer rice and money at the shrine of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani, known as Dastgeer Sahib, situated in Khanyar locality of Srinagar city. To add to it, the rumour also had it that unless the offerings were made immediately, the couple would soon come to grief. Hundreds of couples took the warning seriously, thronging the shrine with offerings of rice and money. The devotees who landed up Dastgeer Sahib included educated Kashmiris as well as peasants from the countryside. “It’s alright even if it was a rumour. There is no harm in making the offering,” said Sheikh Bilal, an agricultural scientist who had come from Ganderbal district to make an offering at the shrine. The shrine management engaged additional staff to cope with the rush of devotees. “I heard the news in the afternoon. I hired a taxi as my wife was keen to make the offering today itself,” said Abdul Salam Wani, 56, who came all the way from Kokernag town in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Though by evening there were reports that the saint denied asking people to make offerings, the crowd at the shrine continued to swell. At the day’s end, the shrine had received hundreds of quintals of rice and millions of rupees. “Faith doesn’t allow any chances to be taken. It hardly matters now whether the news was a fact or a rumour. I have made the offerings,” said Manzoor Ahmad Gora, another agricultural scientist here.