No One Is Left Hungry

By Rajan Mahan, “No one goes hungry in Ajmer during Ramadan” – NDTV – New Delhi, India
For Muslims of south Asia, the Sufi Dargah at Ajmer stands second only to the sacred one in Mecca.

And in the holy month of Ramadan people from all corners of the subcontinent seek the blessings of the Dargah’s immortal 13th century saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.

Popularly called Gareeb Nawaaz, the Protector of the Poor, the Khwaja is still revered for his compassion and empathy for those desperate and needy.

During Ramadan, the Ajmer Dargah still continues to provide lavish but free feasts to the poor. It is a tradition that has continued without a break for the past eight centuries.

Ahmad Raza, Nazim of Ajmer Dargah, says: “This Dargah is the home of Gareeb Nawaz who always helped the poor. That’s why our effort is to ensure that nobody in this area goes hungry.”

Besides free feasts, at Iftari and Sehari, elaborate arrangements are made by the Khadims — the traditional servers of the Khwaja to prepare the food for the thousands who come here. The Dargah Committee and rich devotees donate generously to feed the needy. And recipients feel relieved that during Ramadan they can focus on praying, even if they don’t earn a penny.

“This is a big help for us. Our children can eat good food at the Dargah and we can enjoy lavish Iftar parties here,” says one of them.

The Khwaja won the hearts of people across the Indian subcontinent through his empathy for the deprived. And people of all castes and religions throng at this wish-fulfilling shrine convinced that they won’t be left helpless by the Gareeb Nawaz.

Sawar Chishti, a senior Khadim at the Dargah, says: “These feasts promote universal brotherhood and communal harmony as people from all religions and classes sit together and eat here.”

For nearly eight hundred years, countless millions from the richest to the poorest have sought spiritual solace from the Ajmer’s Sufi shrine.

And by feeding all those in need, the grace of the Gareeb Nawaz still ensures that no one who seeks refuge at this Dargah is left hungry throughout the holy month of Ramadan.

[Watch the Ramzan Ajmer Feast’ 2-minute video http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/videopod/default.aspx?id=%2038753]