Photographs with Commentary by Debra Jan Bibel

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Pushkar becomes our next base but Ajmer, just over the hills, is the chief destination. Sufism in the emphasis.

We arrive at the Jagat Palace, a funky heritage hotel in Pushkar with antique furnishings and decor. A short tower. The entrance. The inner courtyard. On the landing of my room. Close-up of the central ring.

Ailing from an intestinal problem, I opted to stay in my hotel room in the morning, allowing an antibiotic to work but missing another worthwhile event: a drumming lesson. The next three images are care of others who did participate.

This is my all brass room lock, which requires a real key. Funky, indeed.

  These drums of various sizes are nargara. Jaime, a professional drummer, and Sajida try to follow the rhythms. Young and older strike the nargara. Traveling to Ajmer.


In Ajmer is the dargah of the Sufi saint, Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisty, whose lineage is one of the major orders of Sufism. [stock image because photography was not permitted] The plaza leading to the dargah. [stock image] The chaddar shawl, which covered us as we entered the inner sanctum, is both an offering and a vehicle to receive the blessing of the site. [stock image] The actual dargah. Flowers are thrown into and from the chamber. [stock image] Sufis instituted a community school open to the poor of Hindus, Muslims, and other religions and all castes in spirit of tolerance. The next day, we visited and indeed participated in the Peace Festival.
The assembly room included pigeons. The children open the event with their school 'all religion prayer' written by Hazrat Inam Hasan, Gjudri Shah V: "...poverty will go away from this world, everywhere there will be peace. . .The Jew, Sikh, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Zoroaster, together under the blue canopy will live forever..." The little charmer sings a simple but familiar song. Another youngster sings a nursery rhyme. A prayer. The kids dance too.
Characters and heroes from Indian mythology and history: turtle, uniting heaven and earth and second avatar of Vishnu; Sarasvati, diety of arts and music; some soldier; an astronaut [there have been four thus far]; and scientist and former President of India Abdul Kalam. Animals and plants in harmony. Costumes from various regions, peoples, and castes.  Hazrat Inam Hasan Gudri Shah Baba V (brother of Sajida) Now it is time for the Yuval Ron Ensemble to sing their song of peace: shalom, salaam, shanti, hallelujah. After which, the group got on stage and performed by voice and sign language (learned from Silan) a brief tune about love and peace. Then the administrators joined for a group photograph.



The finale begins with a Hindu and a Sheik couple. Next arrive a Catholic priest and a hip-hop singer (Protestant?). With the addition of a Muslim the cast make their curtain call with religious symbols behind. Lunch is at Sajida's birth parent's home (she was raised elsewhere with an esteemed Sufi family). Here is her mother and brother. Her father. A nice entrance decoration.


This image of Yuval, Julien, and Hazrat Inam Hasan Gudri Shah V is at the Sufi khanqah, the house where Sajida was raised. We were there actually the previous day after visiting the Chisty durgah. We waited to hear qawwali singers but they needed to cancel, or rather, postponed for another day. [credit: Andrea Vasconcellos] So, back to the present at our hotel near the swimming pool we indeed had a concert of Qawwali music.        

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On to Jaipur